Six-year-old forced to stand barefoot on searing concrete

Mark and Sarah Simmons face child abuse charges after their son was allegedly forced to stand outside on hot ground. Photo / Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Mark and Sarah Simmons face child abuse charges after their son was allegedly forced to stand outside on hot ground. Photo / Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

On July 12, the high in Phoenix was 110 degrees, according to Weather Underground.

That's not quite hot enough to effectively fry an egg on the street, according to The Washington Post, but it is hot enough to severely burn the bottom of someone's feet.

Police said that's exactly what happened when Mark Simmons decided to punish his 6-year-old son by "taking the boy outside and making him stand barefoot on the ground in the backyard as punishment," according to court records cited by ABC affiliate KNXV-TV.

Simmons also allegedly told police that he used a belt to whip the child, leaving him with bruises.

On camera, KNXV-TV reporter Sonu Wasu demonstrated that she could barely endure the blazing Phoenix concrete for more than a second or two.

Police claim Simmons's child was forced to stand outside for about 10 minutes, the station reported.

The child told police that his stepmother - identified as 30-year-old Sarah Simmons - was home at the time and aware of the brutal punishment, according to the Arizona Republic.

In court documents cited by the paper, Sarah Simmons is accused of cutting blistered flaps from the bottom of her stepson's feet. The documents state that she told him that "if he didn't stop crying, he would go back outside and burn worse," KNXV-TV reported.

The Republic reported that in the court documents police also claim that Simmons told investigators that she didn't initially seek medical treatment for the boy because she was "afraid the children in the house would be taken away."

Simmons - who spoke with authorities last week - told police that she instead bandaged the boy's feet and used a spray medication to treat the pain, according to NBC affiliate KPNX, which cited police as saying that she has had "approximately 30 prior reports with the Department of Child Safety."

"It was only when the victim's wounds became infected and the top of his feet became red that she and Mark decided to call the fire department for medical care," the documents state, according to the Republic.

Simmons told police that she thought calling the fire department and informing a family friend - who is a nurse - was enough to satisfy her legal requirement to report the alleged abuse, according to

Authorities found out about the burns when child-crimes detectives with the Phoenix Police Department were called to the Maricopa County hospital's burn center on July 12, the station reported.

Mark Simmons was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse the next day. His wife was arrested Thursday and charged with intent to commit child abuse, according to KPNX.

Neighbors - who were not identified by KNXV-TV - told the station that they were revolted by the couple's alleged behavior. One neighbor indicated that the allegations didn't come as a shock to her.

"I always see the kids out there by themselves," she said. "My kids have offered them water bottles when they come home from school. The parents don't open the door right away. We've tried to bring them in our house before."

Another neighbor said she'd like to see the couple behind bars.

"Yeah, they should be put in jail because no kid deserves that," she said. "It's awful."

- Washington Post

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