PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Kitsap County prosecutors on Friday accused two mothers of standing by and doing nothing while the father of their 12 children allegedly beat, starved and sexually assaulted the kids.
The two mothers, Amanjot Jaswal, 28, and Shannon Smith, 41, were in court facing criminal mistreatment charges Friday. Both pleaded not guilty.
Court documents say the children ranged in age from infant to 13.
“These children were held against their will, denied nutrition, denied medical care, and physically and sexually abused,” said Scott Wilson, of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s one of the worst cases of abuse we’ve ever seen.”
It appears, between them, the two women had 12 children, and all were fathered by Melford Warren.
Detectives believe Warren kept the family in a house in a quiet Port Orchard neighborhood. According to court documents, he often denied the children food, and locked them up for days in the attic or a bathroom.
Police say Warren also beat the children with sticks or bats, and sexually abused and raped them. Police accused the two mothers of covering the crimes up.
Officers were initially tipped off to the case when a social worker at a Tacoma hospital noticed suspicious injuries on one of the infants.
“This is just bizarre and it’s not making sense,” said Monica Jaswal, the sister of Amanjot, who she describes as a dedicated and loving mother. “I’ve known my sister all my life and none of this I can say about her.”
But prosecutors call her life with Smith and Warren as “cult-like,” and she described herself to police as a breeder for Warren.
On Friday, a judge released Amanjot Jaswal from jail, but kept the bail at $50,000 for Smith.
Warren was arrested Thursday in Florida and is being extradited on $5 million bail, and facing child rape charges.
Detectives are still looking into the possibility that there could be other young victims in other states.
All of the children found in the Kitsap County home have been placed in protective custody.