Pregnant Mother Of 14 Accused Of Hitting Kids With Belt, Fists, January 27, 2006

MILWAUKEE -- A pregnant woman is in custody after police said they found three of her 14 children taking refuge in an abandoned house in Milwaukee.

Police spokeswoman Anne Schwartz said the 9-year-old twin boys and a 6-year-old boy had scars and bruising to their backs, buttocks and faces.

The 35-year-old woman's six oldest children had been previously removed from her home by child welfare officials.

The remaining eight have since been removed. The children range in age from 3 to 20.

The three were found Thursday night in an abandoned house in Milwaukee. Police said the children had created a "safe house" where they'd go to escape their mother's beatings.

Authorities said the floor was covered with garbage and feces.

The three children found in the abandoned house told police their mother regularly punches them with her fist and hits them with belts and a broomstick. Police said there had been complaints about the woman since 1997 related to the care of the children.

Police said she was arrested in 2000 accused of punching an 11-year-old son in the face, but the district attorney didn't prosecute.

Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee was upset that no one knew -- that the children didn't feel they had anyone to turn to.

"These young people had needs, and nobody knew about it. Somebody at school, some adult in their life -- there should be some connection with these young people so they know that somebody's there for them," McGee said.

The abandoned home the children were hiding out in was owned by the city of Milwaukee until last week. It was purchased by a non-profit group that will rehab it later this year.

(Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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