ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
some text
Contributed photo by Rhea County Sheriff's Office / Jennifer Vaughn, of Rhea County, Tenn., was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a guilty plea in Circuit Court Oct. 13, 2021.

A Rhea County, Tennessee, woman charged in 2019 for burning a toddler's feet with scalding water as discipline was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday on a guilty plea to aggravated child abuse.

Jennifer E. Vaughn, 54, was charged Aug. 19, 2019, with aggravated child abuse. Then she was charged with aggravated child neglect in October 2019, as part of the same investigation.

In Wednesday's plea in Rhea County Circuit Court, Vaughn was sentenced to 20 years without parole, according to 12th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney David Shinn, who prosecuted the case.

The charges were leveled against Vaughn after a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl showed up at Children's Hospital Erlanger with "sock burns" that left her requiring numerous skin grafts, Rhea County Sheriff's Office Detective Rocky Potter said at the time of Vaughn's arrest in 2019. Authorities said the burns are so named because of their location.

(READ MORE: Reports of child abuse in Tennessee plummeted last year. That trend is beginning to reverse.)

In 2019, Potter described the toddler's injuries as "just unreal" and said the child's mother, who is not Vaughn, found her daughter "with the skin all blistered and bubbled up on her feet and ankles."

Vaughn, a relative of the victim, was represented by 12th Judicial District Public Defender Jeff Harmon.

"It was a tough case that was resolved to the satisfaction of both sides," Harmon said. "This is listed as a violent 100% sentence, but a person on a 100% sentence can earn up to 15% [off the sentence] for good behavior."

The little girl, now 4 and living with relatives, has significant scarring but is walking with ongoing problems stemming from painful nerve damage to her feet and "still deals with emotional trauma from the abuse," Shinn said.

(READ MORE: Child abuse referrals on rise in Northwest Georgia after drop in 2020)

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT