On March 29th, TwinCities.com reported that Steven Dale Wiltermuth, 22, of Hastings was charged with first-degree assault of an 11-month-old infant he offered to babysit and also faces unrelated child pornography charges. Wiltermuth picked up the child that evening and dropped her back off at the mother's home around 3am. The mother discovered her daughter had "numerous bruises all over her body, with multiple scratches, and several blisters consistent with burns," the complaint said. Evidence recovered from Wiltermuth's home, including rope tied in a noose, a 3-foot long looped rubber band, a 4-foot-long shoelace, and a metal tube with burn marks have police questioning whether sadistic proclivities might be a factor.
Sadism was defined by Krafft-Ebing in the Nineteenth Century, as follows: "The experience of sexual or pleasurable sensations...produced by acts of cruelty, as bodily punishment inflicted on one's own body or witnessed in others, be they animals or human beings. It may also consist of innate desire to humiliate, hurt, wound, or even destroy others..." Sadistic abuse involves organized forms of severe sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse, often involving numerous perpetrators and numerous victims. Sadistic abuse occurs across the variables of race, gender, and socioeconomic conditions. The majority of victims are children when the abuse begins.
The symptoms of sadistic abuse are often extremely severe and detrimental. There are also some symptoms that are acknowledged by professionals to be common reactions to sadistic abuse in children. These include:
- Acting out what has been done to them by harming other children or animals, committing self-mutilation, and chanting.
- Being preoccupied with mutilation. Often destroying objects, stuffed animals, etc.
- Being preoccupied with death. Practicing being dead, asking if s/he will die soon, or asking whether we eat dead people.
- Fear that there is something foreign inside the child's body- e.g., ants, ice, or a bomb.
- Fear of going to jail, being taken away by "bad people", or tied up/caged.
- References to sexual activity with other children or adults. Unusually detailed understandings of sexual practices, etc.
- References to drugs, "pills", mushrooms, "bad medicine", or injections that seem peculiar for a young child.
- Feelings of guilt; believing themselves to be evil