Court documents describe ongoing abuse by Savoy and James over a span of years, including testimony from children and teenagers who lived with the pair and said they were beaten with plastic clothes hangers until the hangers broke, forced to sleep outside, and had their heads banged together
The pair, who are out of jail after posting bail, are due back in Superior Court in Santa Maria on Aug. 18 for a hearing in the case.
The alleged abuse victims range in age from 8 years old to 17, and include four foster children who were in Savoy’s care; two of the four children who lived with James in the house next door; and three young people who had been in Savoy’s foster care within the last three years but were not at the time of her arrest on June 30.
Those recently in the care of either Savoy or James have all been placed in protective custody by Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services.
In information filed to obtain a search warrant, sheriff’s Detective Ruby Wolff made comments indicating that children who lived with Savoy and James corroborated details of abuse by the pair, including being forced to sleep outside for three days on the concrete with only fruit from trees to eat
Wolff wrote that a 16-year-old boy, who was one of Savoy’s foster children, told her that he had lived with the woman since he was 12.
The teen, who Wolff described in the documents as developmentally delayed but high-functioning, told the detective he had been struck with plastic hangers during his stay with Savoy to the point of the hangers breaking. The teen also said he watched Savoy strike her three other foster sons with hangers.
The documents state that on June 28 one of the boys stole $135 from Savoy and she contacted James who beat the youth.
The teen told Wolff that James’s 16-year-old son punched him in the face and ribs while wearing boxing gloves, and James abused the other three boys because of the stolen money.
Another of Savoy’s foster sons, who was 12 at the time of the interview, told Wolff that when he and another of the boys came home late one night, James was waiting outside for them.
“James grabbed them and slammed their heads together very hard, causing a bump on his head,” Wolff wrote. “He said James then pushed them to the ground.”
The 12-year-old and the other boy who came home late were forced to sleep outside for three days, with Savoy denying them food and shelter, according to Wolff’s account.
“When asked for food, she told him, ‘I hope you starve to death.’
She then told him to eat oranges from the tree, which he did,” the report states.
The 12-year-old told Wolff that on June 27, he and two other boys were ordered to pick up cut branches and leaves from the yard, and James told them that if they didn’t follow orders, “I’m going to bury you in the back yard.”
According to the boy, James added, “I’m going to choke you out. I’m going to beat the s--- out of you.”
Wolff also interviewed two other children who were in Savoy’s foster care, ages 10 and 13, who said James kicked them and beat them.
The detective noted bruises and other injuries were visible on the four.
She wrote that James has an extensive criminal history including theft, battery, weapons charges, driving under the influence and annoying/harassing a minor.
Although social workers check in once a month at foster homes, they don’t search under the children’s clothing for signs of abuse, she said.
New foster parents undergo CPR and first aid training, a home inspection and an educational program, according to Nott.
In addition, foster parents must renew some of their training on an annual basis.