Four adults living in apartments on Killarney Circle in Monroe have been arrested on suspicion of beating children with a wooden paddle.

The Monroe School District and Child Protective Services contacted Monroe Police about a potential case of child abuse on Thursday, April 6, said Debbie Willis, MPD administrative director.

She said a 45-year-old man was arrested the same day, and a 22-year-old woman and 37-year-old man were arrested Tuesday, April 11, followed by the arrest of a 48-year-old woman on Wednesday, April 12. Each suspect was booked on three counts of third-degree assault of a child, according to a probable cause report completed by Officer Paul Henderson, who responded to the residence after speaking with CPS.

Children who were living in the apartments were interviewed at Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center in Everett, according to the court documents.

The wooden paddle, which is 21 inches long and 5 inches wide, is currently in the police department’s evidence room, Willis said.

Court documents state the names of the abused children were etched in the plywood paddle. When Henderson first arrived at the apartments, the 22-year-old woman was reportedly seen carrying the paddle toward a dumpster, but then told police she was bringing it out to them when they stopped her.

The woman accused the 45-year-old man of making the paddle, according to court documents. The man was previously charged for beating neighbor children with the same paddle.

During interviews, all three children said they were beaten on multiple occasions with the wooden paddle by each of the suspects. Some said they were also spanked and punched. A 12-year-old girl said the adults “would make her stand in a corner and scream at her. If they were really, really, really mad at her, they would hit her with the paddle that (the 45-year-old male) had made and wrote their names on,” according to court documents.

The 12-year-old girl lived in the apartment where the four adults were arrested, Willis said. There were 13 children total living in the two apartments. Seven were taken into protective custody. The age range for all alleged victims is from 10 months to 17 years old, she said.

When CPS met with Henderson on April 6, he was told about two allegations of child abuse that had taken place at the apartments, according to court documents. The first involved a 13-year-old girl living in an upstairs apartment, and the second involved a child living with the 45-year-old man in his apartment.

When Henderson first arrived at the apartments, he spoke with a woman living in the upstairs unit whose husband found bruises on their 13-year-old daughter’s bottom while giving her a bath two days prior. The woman also said her brother had told her he had seen the 45-year-old man hit the daughter with the wooden paddle the night before.

The 45-year-old man admitted to using the paddle on the girl, who is developmentally delayed. He also said he had done so after already seeing bruises on her bottom. The man also admitted to beating the daughter’s twin sister.

So far, seven children taken into protective custody have been interviewed, Willis said. The two 13-year-old girls were not taken into protective custody, she said.

The 45-year-old man lives with his girlfriend, the 48-year-old woman, and her two children who are 16 and 13, according to court documents. The woman’s ex-husband, who is the father of her two children and also lives in the same apartment, was not arrested.

One child said when she was “spanked with the paddle it would hurt so bad that she screamed and couldn’t sit down for a long time or it would make it very painful to sit down.” One child said they had seen the paddle break while it was being used to hit a 2-year-old child. One girl said she was hit so hard sometimes that she couldn’t breathe. Each child said the pain could last into the following day.

Willis called it “a bit of a complicated case,” because of the different relationships between the 21, or potentially 22 children and adults who live in the two neighboring apartments.

She said all of the people know each other, and the children are sent to one or the other apartment together sometimes.

Willis said the investigation is still open, and there are still children to interview. There are four other adults involved that live in the second apartment and were not arrested because there is currently no probable cause, she said.

The adults would hide the wooden paddle around the apartment, “because they were afraid the police would find it,” according to court documents.