Jul 17, 2012
The Corona Police Department was notified in March about a boy who had been taken out to the Mojave Desert by three men from the Heart of Worship Church in Corona and threatened into digging his own grave.
The boy's mother had taken the boy to Pastor Lonny Remmers and church members Nicholas Craig and Darryll Jeter Jr. for punishment, according to the Riverside County district attorney's office.
Cpl. Margaret Bell, a police officer of 23 years, was a member of the church who was allegedly told of the abuse and did nothing. Someone else reported the incident, along with Bell's knowledge of it, anonymously to the Corona Police Department.
The veteran police officer is charged with failing to report child abuse or neglect, which she is required by state law to do. If convicted, Bell could serve jail time.
Specifically, Bell is charged with violating the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act which was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan.
Pastor Lonny Remmers, 54, Nicholas Craig, 22, and Darryl Jeter Jr., 28, were charged with kidnapping, making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon not a firearm, producing great bodily injury, and child abuse.
"Obviously, what we've charged goes above and beyond any discipline that should have been done," said Riverside County D.A. spokesman John Hall. "These are actual criminal offenses."
Under CANRA, all Californians are required to report child abuse and neglect, but a higher mandate is placed on those in professional settings, such as police officers.
Read the CANRA FAQs for answers on California's mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect.