BRENTWOOD, N.H. (AP) — A woman told jurors Thursday she let her former boyfriend abuse and terrify her 3-year-old son in part because she feared he would do something even worse if she left.
“I still right now feel like he’s going to do something,” Jessica Linscott said, testifying against Roland Dow. “I feel as if this whole thing is my fault. I feel like in his head, he thinks he didn’t do anything wrong, and I feel as though if something happens to him, and he gets time, when he gets out, he’s going to come find me.”
Linscott and Dow were arrested at a Florida theme park in November 2012, two weeks after the toddler was hospitalized with a severe brain injury and burns on his wrist and fingers. She pleaded guilty to failing to get her son medical help and telling him to lie to a social worker; Dow is on trial on a dozen charges, including assault, child endangerment and witness tampering.
In often tearful testimony, Linscott said Dow physical and mentally abused her and treated her son, James Nicholson, “worse than a dog you don’t want.”
“No matter what my son was doing, he was doing it wrong,” she said. “My son couldn’t color the right way, he couldn’t eat the right way, he couldn’t talk the right way.”
Dow screamed at James if he spilled crumbs while he ate and hit him in the head numerous times, she said. If James soiled his clothes, Dow would make him go in the shower to rinse off, holding him down and spraying him with water. Sometimes, the frantic toddler fell in the tub and got hurt as he struggled, she said.
Linscott admitted that she, too, put her son in the shower but said she was more gentle. She said Dow had told her she was “babying” her son and that he had to learn to correct his misbehavior.
“I know that it was wrong, and that I’m in the wrong,” she cried.
Linscott also admitted spanking James, saying if she didn’t, Dow would do it “and it would be a lot worse.”
Dow’s defense attorneys say Linscott has a history of falsely accusing others of when she feels threatened.
Linscott said she was afraid to take her son and leave because Dow had hit her, ripped out her hair, repeatedly choked her and once threw her down the stairs. While she did leave for three days when he threatened to slit her throat, she said she returned after he said he would kill himself.
Jurors also watched a video of the couple preparing James for a social worker’s visit in October 2012. The video, shot from under a couch, doesn’t clearly Dow, Linscott or the boy, but their voices could be heard.
Dow is heard asking James, “Do you like being here?” ”Anybody ever spank you?” and “Ever go in the shower when you’re really bad?” and the boy answers softly, ‘yeah,’ ‘no’ and ‘no.’
After asking, “If someone said I hit you, are they lying?” Dow answers himself with a stern “Yes.”
At one point, Dow says, “Hey, give me a hug. We’re best friends, right?”
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