3 charged in ‘one of the worst’ child abuse cases ever in Louisiana parish

ROSEPINE, La. — Three people in Louisiana have been accused of beating and abusing a 7-year-old girl so badly that the sheriff called the case “one of the worst, if not the worst case of child abuse, that has occurred” in his parish.

Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft last week announced the arrests of Allen Clayton Fulks, 20, and Stacy Lynn Tharpe, both of Rosepine, and Dakota Wayne Singletary, 22, of Lake Charles. Fulks and Singletary are charged with three counts each of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

Tharpe, who was caring for the girl in her mother’s absence, is charged with a single count of principal to second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, Craft said. She is being held in the Vernon Parish Jail in lieu of bail set at $300,000.

Fulks and Singletary each had bail set at $450,000.

A July 8 news release on the case stated that the abuse came to light after Fulks and Singletary suffered minor injuries in a car accident near Rosepine, a small town about 55 miles from Lake Charles. As Rosepine police officers and Louisiana state troopers investigated the crash, Tharpe showed up at the scene with her children.

“Officer (Robert) Green from the Rosepine Police Department knew that an additional child had been previously left in the care of Tharpe (but) that child was not present at the accident scene,” the news release said. “Green spoke to Tharpe and she indicated that the child’s mother currently had possession of the child.”

A witness at the scene told officers that was not the case.

Green and a state trooper went to Tharpe’s home, where they found the 7-year-old victim with multiple bruises, including to her face, Craft said. The girl’s eyes were bruised to the point of being nearly swollen shut.

“It was learned that the female child’s mother had left her in Tharpe’s care in February 2020 and had not returned,” the news release said.

The girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where doctors found “significant and acute” bruising over the girl’s body. She told detectives that Fulks and Singletary had beaten her repeatedly with their fists and choked her until she lost consciousness, authorities said.

The girl’s hair had also been cut off.

“The victim told deputies that she was tired and couldn’t take the abuse any longer,” the news release said.

Vernon Parish Detective David Vance interviewed both men, who admitted to physically abusing the girl, according to the release.

Tharpe was interviewed the next day, at which point she admitted to witnessing the beatings.

“Tharpe failed to report the abuse and attempted to conceal the whereabouts and injuries of the injured child by leaving her at the residence unattended,” the news release said.

Investigators located the biological father of the girl and are working with social workers from the Department of Child and Family Services on the case, Craft said.

“The physical and emotional trauma suffered by this child is one of the worst, if not the worst case of child abuse, that has occurred in Vernon Parish,” the sheriff said in a statement. “The victim continues to undergo medical treatment for her injuries.”

Craft commended Green, Vance and state Trooper Peter Smith for their work on the case.

“Investigators firmly believe that this child would have become a tragic statistic if not for the efforts of these officers,” Craft said.