Woman Charged After She Allegedly Put Girl’s Feet in Scalding Water as Punishment

US Mimi Nguyen Ly

A Tennessee woman has been charged with aggravated child abuse after she allegedly put a young girl’s feet into scalding water as a way to punish the 2-year-old. Meanwhile, the girl’s mother has expressed concerns that due to the severity of the burns, she is at a high risk of infection and may lose her feet.

The toddler, Kaylee Robinson, suffered burns and blisters that were described as “sock burns” by the hospital “because it quite literally looked like the burns were a pair of socks,” according to a reporter from WTVC.

The incident reportedly occurred on Aug. 11 when Jennifer Vaughn, the girl’s step-grandmother, was babysitting her in a home in Chattanooga.

Vaughn is said to have admitted that she dipped the 2-year-old’s feet into boiling water to punish the girl for misbehaving. Brittany Smith, the girl’s mother, told Metro US that Vaughn told her that she wanted to punish the girl because the child had upset her.

Smith is the fiancee of Vaughn’s son, Kyle Vaughn. According to Metro US, Smith said she entrusted her daughter to Vaughn on Aug. 11 while she, Kyle, and her other two children were headed to a local area to swim. But Smith quickly returned home not having made it to her destination after receiving a phone call from Vaughn telling her to come home as soon as possible, the news outlet reported. At first, Vaughn wouldn’t tell her why.

When Smith arrived home, she found her daughter screaming. Eventually, Vaughn admitted that she intentionally dipped Kaylee’s feet into scalding water, the news outlet reported.

Since the incident, Vaughn has been charged with aggravated child abuse and is being held on a $150,000 bond.

In Tennessee, Haley’s Law makes it a Class A felony to cause or contribute to the abuse of a child under 9 years-old that results in injury. According to NBC, Rocky Potter, a detective with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department who has been working the case, said that prosecutors hope to take Vaughn in front of a grand jury on Oct. 1.

According to WTVC, Kaylee was rushed to the hospital and then taken to a burns center in Georgia. A GoFundMe account was created on Aug. 20 to seek support for medical expenses for the little girl.

“On August 11th 2019 Kaylee was intentionally burned by her caregiver. [Her] mom and dad have had loss of work, huge medical expenses as well as gas back and forth to the pediatric burn unit in Austell, Georgia,” the GoFundMe account reads.

The account appears to be set up by Kaylee’s paternal grandmother, according to the GoFundMe description.

“I’ve set this up for all of those wanting to donate to help my son and daughter in law with our granddaughter’s needs,” Barbara Little said on the page. “Thank you for the overwhelming amount of prayers and support for our family during this very difficult time.

“Kaylee is going to need several surgeries. She goes every Monday for at least the next 8 weeks for surgeries to try and repair the damage that has been done to her.”

Graphic photos posted to the page show large red blisters on both of the toddler’s feet.

Potter told WTVC that the photos of the toddler’s injuries showed the “worst scald burns I’d ever seen.”

Prognosis Currently Uncertain

Smith told Metro US on Aug. 20, nine days after the injuries were inflicted, that her daughter has had two operations so far “but they haven’t worked.”

‘The skin is not really repairing itself in the way the doctors hoped it would. Kaylee is in a lot of pain,” she told the news outlet, adding that next week, doctors will attempt to use some skin from Kaylee’s thigh to try and repair her feet.

She added that her daughter is “at high risk of infection” and could end up losing her feet.

Potter had earlier told WTVC a similar message—that the damage was so severe that the skin grafts may not be successful.

Smith told WTVC she doesn’t know when her daughter will be able to walk again, if ever. “It’s not right,” she told the station.

“There is nothing in this world that a 2-year-old can do, no matter how bad they lashed out at you.”