Jennifer Wolfthal, 41, has been charged with child neglect with great bodily harm and domestic violence battery

By Steve Helling
January 28, 2021 09:14 PM
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A Florida children's author and her husband have been arrested after they allegedly abused their three children.

Jennifer Wolfthal, 41, was arrested on New Year's Day on charges of child neglect with great bodily harm and domestic violence battery. She was arrested after her 8-year-old was found to be suffering from a number of ailments and injuries that authorities allege were not accidental.

Jennifer is the author of children's book A Real Friend, which has since been removed from sale by its publisher.

The writer was arrested after her husband arrived at the hospital with the child, who was suffering from many conditions — including pneumonia, a staph infection and liver failure. Authorities say that the girl was also malnourished, had multiple bruises, a skin infection and several open wounds, according to an arrest report obtained by WFTV.

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Credit: Seminole County
Credit: Seminole County

Jennifer bonded out of jail — but was arrested again this week on three new charges of false imprisonment of a child under 13, PEOPLE confirms. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the new charges came after investigators interviewed the couple's children, who alleged that they were spanked to the point of bleeding, doused in cold water, and locked in their bedrooms.

The arrest report alleges that the children often went for months without bathing, and were seriously malnourished.

One child allegedly told investigators that her parents "would take turns disciplining them," and would "spank her in the same spot to the point of drawing blood."

The police report says that the children claimed they were punished by being doused with cold water in their beds, and "left to sleep in that condition overnight."

Jennifer's husband, Joseph, was also arrested this week on charges of child neglect with great bodily harm, aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of a child under 13.

Recently filed divorce documents show the couple adopted the children in 2014, WFTV reports.

Jennifer is being held without bond while Joseph is being held on a $210,000 bond. Neither Jennifer nor Joseph has entered a plea.

Jennifer's lawyer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment and court records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on Joseph's behalf.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.