ALBION, N.Y. — A 10-year-old girl ran down a gravel road on a dark night last week, trying to outpace the car trailing behind her.
The grueling routine at the Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area in Williamstown was meant to punish the girl for acting out, Shawn M. Whaley told deputies.
He drove behind the girl — training the car’s headlights on her as she carried heavy, clothes-filled backpacks for miles and miles, according to statements filed by deputies. He was disciplining the girl for being “mouthy” and lazy, he said.
It was one of the many forms of punishment the girl said she endured in the four months at 393 Albion Cross Road in Albion. Three of the adults she lived with were arrested Wednesday by the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office and charged with assault.
Each of the defendants gave statements to police. They acknowledged the girl was disciplined – even hit and taken for “walks” at Happy Valley – but disputed the severity of her punishments.
The girl talked back more than the other children and slacked off when she was working around the yard, Whaley said. The adults wanted to “straighten her up,” he said.
The girl lived in the trailer with her mother, Leslieann Raeder, and her two siblings. She told deputies they moved in with Gary Bubis Jr., her mom’s boyfriend, near the end of the 2017 school year.
Bubis’ pregnant sister, Brandy Shaver, and her boyfriend, Whaley, also lived in the trailer.
“I’m afraid of Gary and Shawn,” the girl told deputies.
The girl said Bubis slapped her face and hit her arms with a homemade weapon the family dubbed “the beating stick” — a rolled-up newspaper wrapped in electrical tape. He also asked her older sister and mother to hit her, she said.
“My mom recently started to hit me because Gary told her that she needed to start teaching me lessons,” she said.
The girl’s 12-year-old sister confirmed the abuse to police.
“(My sister) gets in trouble for trying to steal food and towels because she is dirty,” the girl said in a police statement. “She works all day long outside pulling brush and only eats at night with hot sauce on her food.”
When she spoke to deputies Wednesday, the 10-year-old girl said she had been locked out of the bathroom. She remembered the last time she was allowed to take a bath: two weeks earlier after the Oswego County Fair.
The girl said Shaver and Whaley brought her to Happy Valley twice last week. During the first run, the girl said Shaver hit her with the car — knocking her over.
“Shawn said, ‘You better get up before I run you over,’ ” the girl told deputies. “That scared me.”
During the second run, the girl said, she ran with bags weighing down her back and shoulders. When she didn’t sprint fast enough, the girl said, Whaley tied a white rope around her waist.
The rope was attached to the car, she said.
“Shawn started to drive. I couldn’t keep up and was pulled on the ground. I yelled for Shawn to stop. Shawn said, ‘I’m not stopping,’ ” she said. “It hurt really bad where the rope was tied around my waist. The road was mostly rocks. It hurt really bad and I cried.”
When her mother got home from work the next day, the girl said, she told her about the car.
“Mom did not do anything,” she said.
So on Wednesday morning, when her mom was at work and Bubis was sleeping, the girl ran away.
A man was doing work outside an Albion Cross Road home shortly before 11 a.m. when he saw the sobbing girl walking down the street, he said in a witness statement. He said the skinny girl was covered in so many bruises and scabs that he initially thought she was coated in dirt.
The man brought the girl to the home and called for help. While they waited for deputies to arrive, a woman inside the home warmed up pizza for the girl and gave her clothes.
“The little girl did not seemed scared by talking to us, or the police, or the fact she was going away in an ambulance,” the woman said in a witness statement. “It was like the girl had had enough and was ready for help.”
In a police statement, Raeder said she was at work Wednesday afternoon when she learned her daughter left the Albion Cross Road home. She said Bubis sent her a text message that read “bitch face is gone.”
Whaley, 23, and Shaver, 18, have been charged with assaulting the girl. Bubis, 37, has been charged with assaulting a 3-year-old boy by placing his hands into a container of hot water.
Raeder, 34, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Deputies said they expect more charges.