Couple accused of pouring liquid dish soap in children's mouths

Woman's son had allergic reaction to bar soap in mouth, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville couple has been charged with child abuse after police said they disciplined the woman's children by pouring liquid dish soap in their mouths.

Timothy Ward, 30, and Jessica Prather, 32, were arrested Tuesday. Ward is Prather's boyfriend and the children involved are not his, family tells News4Jax.

A witness told police that she saw Ward and Prather abusing the children verbally on several occasions and dragging them by the arms across the floor. According to a police report, the couple also held the children down while hitting them with flip-flops and hair brushes.

Prather's son got bar soap in his mouth one time, but he had an allergic reaction, police said. The next time, liquid dish soap was used on him and with another child too, police said.

Ward and Prather admitted to police that they used the dish soap as discipline, not knowing if the ingredients might be harmful, according to the arrest report.

Ward and Prather were booked into the Duval County Jail on $20,000 bond each. Ward posted bail and was released Wednesday morning.