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Middletown woman who 'violently assaulted' 13-year-old for not knowing Bible verses is sentenced

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Posted 10/26/17

A 41-year-old Middletown woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated assault, strangulation, endangering the welfare of a child and terroristic threats after she “violently assaulted” a …

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Middletown woman who 'violently assaulted' 13-year-old for not knowing Bible verses is sentenced

Posted

A 41-year-old Middletown woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated assault, strangulation, endangering the welfare of a child and terroristic threats after she “violently assaulted” a 13-year-old who couldn’t properly recite Bible verses on March 14.

Rhonda Shoffner, 41, was sentenced to two and a half years to five years in state prison. She was also sentenced to consecutive five years of probation.   

Police said the girl complained of a severe headache. Scratches on her hand and chest, strangulation bruise marks on both sides of her neck, and bruises from the two bites were evident, police said.

“This was an extremely scary situation for this young victim to have to endure. Fortunately she is doing well now and is in a safe place,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Seán M. McCormack said. 

The police investigation into the assault revealed that Shoffner was intoxicated during the incident.

As part of her sentence, Shoffner was ordered by Dauphin County Judge John F. Cherry to undergo alcohol and drug counseling and to remain drug and alcohol free. Upon her release from prison, she will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. 

According to authorities, when the child failed to properly cite Bible verses, she slammed the child’s head into the bathroom wall. She also bit the child during the assault.  At one point during the incident she held the victim down on the floor and strangled the victim briefly, cutting off her airway, according to authorities. While assaulting the child, she told her, “I’m going to kill you.” 

According to the criminal complaint, one of the verses was about God putting his only son on Earth. Shoffner asked, “What did God tell the man to do with his son?” The victim said she did not know. The defendant said, “God told the man to kill his son,” according to police.

When the victim responded: “God said to forgive his son,” Shoffner said that the victim did not say the verse right and began grabbing her hair, according to the complaint. 

Each time the victim did not say the verse right, she slammed the victim’s head into the wall, according to the complaint.

Shoffner also pleaded guilty to a simple assault charge related to a second assault incident that occurred in January. In that incident, Shoffner assaulted a woman during an argument in a car. She hit the woman and bit her.