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Police: Iraq vet abused daughter, held her head in water

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
  • Soldier's girlfriend tells police he was abusing his daughter, 4
  • Police: Girl had bruises and scratches; child said, "Daddy used his hands"
  • Police report: Sgt. Joshua Tabor was angry that she "does not know her alphabet"
  • Authorities: Tabor admits putting her head in sink, denies putting face underwater
  • Child Abuse
  • Washington
  • Iraq War

Seattle, Washington (CNN) -- An Iraq war veteran has been charged with assault on suspicion of abusing his daughter, whose head he allegedly held in water to get her to recite the ABCs, according to police in Yelm, Washington.

Police arrested Army Sgt. Joshua Tabor on January 31 after they responded to complaints about 2 a.m. that he was wandering around his neighborhood and appeared to be intoxicated.

"He was threatening to break windows with his Kevlar helmet," said Todd Stancil, police chief of Yelm, about 60 miles south of Seattle.

Although the arrest happened more than a week ago, details of the case were not widely known publicly until Monday.

According to a police report, Tabor's girlfriend told police that he was physically abusing his 4-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. The girl had recently moved to live with Tabor and, according to a police report, Tabor was angry that she "does not know her alphabet, colors or numbers."

"He would fill the kitchen sink and put her head in it like he was washing her hair," Stancil told CNN.

The child had "severe bruising on her entire back," "scratch marks on her back made in a downward motion" and "bruising on both of her arms, her legs and her buttocks," the police report said.

According to the report, the girl told police: "I don't know why he did it ... Daddy used his hands."

The child also told police that Tabor "put me in the water," the report said, so she "would say my letters."

"It was hot, the water was hot. I told him I would say my letters then!" the girl told police, according to the police report.

Under questioning, according to the police report, Tabor admitted to holding his daughter in the sink because she was afraid of water, and he wanted her to recite the ABCs.

But Tabor denied putting the child's face underwater or turning on the faucet. He put her head in the sink "three to four times," Tabor told police, according to the report.

"She said her letters after that," the report quoted Tabor as saying.

Police are investigating the incident, Stancil said.

Tabor was charged with third-degree assault of a child, but that could be upgraded because of the severity of the alleged assault, the chief said.

Joseph Piek, a spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Tabor is based, said Tabor returned last year after being stationed for 15 months in Iraq. Tabor is restricted to the base and living with his unit, Piek said.