Parents accused of injuring, neglecting 3 kids

Darren Denley, 22, and Elise Penn, 22, are facing two charges each of injury to a child/serious bodily injury

February 14, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
A father and mother are accused of repeatedly abusing their three young children. It was the children's grandmother who turned in the parents and it turns out they were no strangers to Children's Protective Services.

Cleo Penn could not hold back the tears when she learned her daughter Elise Penn and Elise's boyfriend Darren Denley have both been charged with injury to a child.

"I'm not really surprised," Cleo said. "I knew it was going to happen, because this is not the first time that CPS has been called."

Court records show when they first went to the apartment shared by Elise Penn, 22, and Darren Denley, 22, last July, they found three kids, one to three years old, dirty, malnourished and with physical signs of abuse. They were called there by Cleo, the children's grandmother.

"It was very, very difficult, because I love my kids and I love my grandkids," Cleo told Eyewitness News.

CPS removed the children at that time, but charges on the couple were not brought until this week, when neighbors saw police arrest the two at the very same complex.

"I don't have any kids and I always wanted them," said neighbor Roberta Cox. "It always is hurtful to see people abusing their kids like that."

Investigators say the parents have a long history with Child Protective Services, having been called at least five times since 2009. Even Elise's own sibling says her mom did the right thing.

"I know my mom loved my sister but something had to give, something had to change," said Shauntelle Dillon.

But for Cleo Penn calling the police on your own child is never easy.

"I love my daughter but I do believe people need to accept their punishments," she said.

We were wondering why CPS had been called five times in the past three years, yet charges were filed only this week. Documents that would explain have not yet been made available to Eyewitness News.

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