DES MOINES, Iowa
James Beaudrie is an Iowa father accused of raping his own children.
He is in the Polk County jail facing eight counts of third-degree sexual abuse. Court documents reveal the charges stem from abuse that happened between Oct.1, 2011 and Feb. 24, 2012.
An exclusive News Channel 8 investigation asked why it took police six months to charge Beaudrie even though one of his children kept coming forward with allegations of abuse.
News Channel 8’s Emily Price sifted through hundreds of pages of police reports spanning several cities and two states. Over the course of two weeks, News Channel 8 discovered disturbing allegations about the 440 pound father and things he allegedly did to three of his nine children.
The investigation includes incidents that allegedly happened inside Merle Hay Mall. It’s a privately owned mall in a very public place. Inside the mall today, a bench and two potted trees cover up what was once the Gamesip store owned by Beaudrie. It shut down in April.
Court documents show Des Moines police first heard about Beaudrie on Oct. 19, 2011 when one of his children ran away.
A social worker reported the child had hopped a Greyhound bus to Minnesota and spilled a story to her there. The child was escaping a beating in the back of the Gamesip store. She said she received 100 whacks with a broom handle on her bare bottom.
The child told police Beaudrie “just kept whacking,” and even several days later, social workers documented bruises.
In March, Beaudrie pleaded guilty to simple assault in the case. A judge ordered him t pay a $65 fine and to take parenting classes. As he was in and out of Polk County court on that charge, Beaudrie was allegedly doing even worse things to three of his nine children.
According to a police report, on Nov. 25, 2011, one child claims Beaudrie raped her at the Valley West Inn in West Des Moines where the family of 11 stayed in one room. The child sought help the next day at Merle Hay Mall.
DES MOINES, Iowa -
“A security officer escorted the young woman to our security office and followed procedure and called the Des Moines police department. The Des Moines police department came and interviewed the young woman. It is our policy and procedure and is of the Des Moines police department that our security officers are not present during any interviews of any nature,” Merle Hay Mall spokeswoman Liz Holland told News Channel 8 on Tuesday.
Des Moines police then alerted the West Des Moines police department because that's the city where the assault allegedly occurred. West Des Moines detectives then came to interview the child in the mall security office, according to Holland.
Merle Hay Mall officials initially told News Channel 8 back in April they had "no knowledge of alleged events" and they stand by that today. That doesn't match information in police reports and what Des Moines police Sgt. Chris Scott told News Channel 8 this week.
“A report was made to a security guard at Merle Hay Mall that she had been sexually assaulted by her father,” Scott said.
Merle Hay Mall officials said that specific information did not show up in their security report and neither did the Oct. 18, 2011 beating that happened in the back of the store.
“Unless the police inform us of it, that is correct, we don’t know about it. It's unfortunately the case but that is correct,” Holland said.
Mike Hurt frequented Gamesip and told News Channel 8 that a child was always the cashier. That child told a social worker she hasn’t received schooling the past five years and she worked 70 hours a week at the store.
“You just get kind of a weird feeling every time you leave like something is just out of place and not with the norm of other game stores,” Hurt said.
Inside Gamesip, the Beaudries organized opportunities for people to come play games in the back of the store.
“The store oftentimes advertised Yu gi oh as a game which is predominantly played by young teens and that is oftentimes who I saw in the back,” Hurt said.
DES MOINES, Iowa
A Jan. 30, 2012 police report showed the same child who was beaten in the back of Gamesip also reported an attempted rape there. She said her father pushed her into a recliner and tried to remove her clothes, but luckily she got away, a Des Moines police report indicated.
In all, police said there were eight instances of sex abuse that happened between Oct. 1, 2011 and Feb. 24, 2012. Police did not bring charges until April. Beaudrie wasn't ordered to stay away from children until he was captured in Chicago by U.S. Marshals on May 7.
“We often want to believe it can be reported and we can solve it in an hour like they do on TV. But that's just not the way it happens. It does take a lot of time,” Scott said.
Police said complicating matters was mom Kijua Beaudrie, who repeatedly told police one of her children had mental problems. That child, police said, changed her stories several times.
“There is nothing fast about it. It was just a matter of corroborating, and sorting through what are the real facts, given the fact we haven't always had the truth before, what is the truth now? It is very complex,” Scott said.
“Unfortunately it may well have confirmed what her father told her: that no one will believe you. That people will wonder about you and wonder about your mental health. That's very sad and discouraging,” said Beth Barnhill, the executive director for the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Barnhill said it's normal for a victim of repeated sexual abuse to remember new things weeks or even months after an assault.
“That unfortunately gets used to discredit victims sometimes. Because stories do change as they remember things or as a result of the fear they're experiencing,” she said.
Police report all nine Beaudrie children are now safe in foster homes and shelters in Des Moines. They report that's what it took to get to the truth about James Beaudrie.
It wasn't until the very end when all the kids were removed that is when they started to get all the facts and puzzle pieces put together to say this is the problem, we have got to do something and we've got to do it now. Up to that point, certainly there were concerns but we don't want to be premature. We want to make sure that when we do it, we do it right,” Scott said.
James Beaudrie remains in the Polk County jail on $200,000 bail. His next court date is June 7.