Muskingum County Prosecutor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Parents of 3 plead guilty to child abuse charges
The parents of three Zanesville children pleaded guilty this week to charges of child abuse.
Ryan Norman pleaded guilty to three second-degree felony counts of endangering children with a prior offense, and Wendy Norman pleaded guilty to three third-degree felony counts of endangering children.
In October 2021, the children found the courage to report the physical and emotional abuse they were suffering at the hands of their parents to school authorities. Children’s Services removed the three kids from their home the same day.
"This is a great example of professionals in our schools following through with concerns about student safety,” Prosecutor Ron Welch said. “Responsible reporting by the school allowed the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office to conduct an immediate, thorough investigation resulting in convictions for two people who not only failed to protect these children but actively abused them in horrific ways. Further, the prompt action of responsible people allowed these children to be placed into a safe environment by children's services."
While disclosing their abuse to investigators, the children described nearly two years of maltreatment at their Maysville Pike home.
Confined to an attic covered in filth and animal feces, the children often went without eating even when there was food in the house and suffered regular beatings.
The children told officers that both parents beat them, but Ryan was the main perpetrator.
The kids described being slapped to the point of bruising. Both parents used a belt to beat the children on their legs, backs and hands, which left marks on their bodies. The children told investigators of a wooden stick that Ryan hit them with that caused them to bleed, in addition to a wooden board that broke the last time Ryan used it to hit the oldest child.
When police searched the house on a warrant, they found both a wooden paddle and a wooden dowel, similar to a pool cue stick.
The kids spoke of different occasions when Ryan would strangle them until they couldn’t breathe, including one Christmas Eve when the father strangled all three children and called them “ungrateful brats.”
In addition to physical abuse, the children were also exposed to their parents’ drug abuse. One child recalled her mother treating her head injury from a fall with a Percocet in her drink that caused her to sleep all day. The child also remembered a time when Wendy and Ryan fed her muffins mixed with marijuana, but they didn’t tell her they were laced until after she ate them.
The children told investigators how Wendy and Ryan frequently abused Xanax and Percocet pills, describing how their parents snorted and swallowed the pills in front of them.
The oldest child reported that one time Ryan and Wendy took her with them to a drug house to get pills, and someone pulled out a gun and threatened to kill them.
Officers found evidence of drug use throughout the living areas of the home, including smoking pipes, grinders, a glass plate and a snorting straw.
Both Normans will be sentenced at a later date. Ryan Norman faces up to 24 years in prison for his crimes while Wendy norman faces nine years.
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