Testimony of three children was heard for the first time Tuesday, as the judge alone trial continued for a Calgary couple accused of abusing and torturing their adopted children.
The couple, who are the aunt and uncle of the three young children, legally adopted them in 2009, three years after their parents were killed in a car crash.
It’s alleged the children endured a wide range of abuses, including being kicked and punched, tortured with kitchen utensils and made to drink their own vomit between 2010 and 2011.
The adopted parents are also accused of burning a child’s tongue with a lighter.
There is a publication ban in place to protect the identities of the children in the case. Some parts of Tuesday’s testimony are part of a voir dire, or a trial within a trial. The judge will later determine which evidence, if any, will be admissible.
The couple’s home was searched on May 18, 2011, and officers seized items allegedly used to abuse the children. The aunt and uncle were arrested on June 29, 2011.
The Crown says a teacher first noticed a problem when one of the students, who was seven at the time, came to school in January 2011 with a “swollen and bruised face.” The child then told a school counsellor about the abuse she and her siblings endured at their home.
The children were later taken from their home.
A 2011 interview between the eldest child, who was 13 at the time, and Sgt. Jason McDonald, formerly with the Calgary police’s Child Abuse Unit, was played in court Tuesday. In it, the young girl says she’s there to talk about the bad things that happened to her and her siblings in their house.
She testified in the interview that her aunt and uncle were hurting her and her brother and sister, outlining several examples including that their uncle would hit the soles of their feet with a wooden stick. She also said she was forced to wear a soiled diaper to a tutoring program.
The girl, now 19, was accompanied by a counsellor when she appeared in court from a remote witness room.
WATCH: Aunt and uncle on trial for abuse of children whose parents died in 2006 car crash – Tracy Nagai reports
The court also heard testimony from social worker Amanda Konotopsky Tuesday, who said she took photos of one of the children’s puffy lip. She said one of the children denied being forced to take cold showers or being poked with a meat poker.
On Monday, police testified about numerous marks found on the children’s bodies.
On Tuesday, the couple’s lawyer told the court that one of the children fabricated the allegations and then manipulated the other children to go along with the stories.
The woman in the case has been charged with assault and assault with a weapon. The man faces charges of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence.
The childrens’ testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.