Washington County fire captain charged with pouring soap in daughter's mouth

A Washington County emergency services captain is facing criminal charges after a video surfaced in which his elementary-school-aged daughter can be heard coughing and gagging after he allegedly poured dish soap in her mouth after becoming upset with her in his Brunswick, Md. home last month, according to court records.

The video was taken by an older sister who said she has always struggled with her dad and wanted to help her two younger sisters, the court records state.

Michael Maurice Hayter, 43, of Moore Spring Court, has been charged with second-degree child abuse and three counts of second-degree assault, according to Frederick County District Court records. Hayter, who posted a $5,000 unsecured bond on Sept. 14, is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in district court on Oct. 13.

Hayter is on "administrative assignment" pending resolution of the case, Washington County government spokeswoman Danielle Weaver said Thursday. As a captain in the county office of fire and emergency medical services, Hayter works in advance life support services, is an apparatus operator and has supervisory duties, Weaver said. The office is within the Washington County Division of Emergency Services.

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Rockville, Md., attorney Rene Sadler, who specializes in Maryland Child Protective Services cases, is representing Hayter.

“At this time, we have no comment on Mr. Hayter’s matter other than to say we look forward to zealously defending these allegations in court," Sadler said in an email.

Gary Cline, a detective with the Brunswick Police Department, said in a criminal complaint that he received a phone call on Aug. 31 from a Frederick County Department of Social Services worker regarding the investigation.

Cline met social services worker later that day and was given an email containing two photos and a video. He opened one of the photos which showed "a slender red mark with a straight edge" on the buttocks of Hayter's daughter. Cline said he could also see another similar mark on her.

The girl has an older elementary-school-aged sister and another oldest sister.

What is heard in the video?

Cline viewed the video, which he said first showed what appeared to be a countertop and the image going dark. Then Cline said he could hear a young child crying and a male yelling "get up, get up."

"The child is screaming, and the male is telling the child repeatedly to 'open up,''' Cline said.

The child is then heard coughing and gagging, he said in the complaint.

Cline said he met the social services worker, Hayter's three daughters and two other individuals at Baker Park in Frederick to talk about the case.

On a previous occasion, the girl told Cline and the social services worker that her father put liquid soap in her mouth before she went to gymnastics.

During the recent incident on Aug. 28, the girl said her oldest sister was watching her while her dad went to the gym a short distance from his house where the incident occurred. The family was planning to go to a pool near the gym later that day, and the girl told investigators she became upset because she couldn't find a swimsuit to fit her. She stated she wanted to choke herself, according to the complaint.

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Her middle sister, who was also in her dad's house during the incident, said her oldest sister didn't know what to do after the youngest made the comment, so the older sister called her father.

'Help me, he's gonna kill me'

Hayter tried to talk to his youngest daughter on the phone, but the girl wouldn't say anything, according to the complaint. He told her that if she didn't apologize, he was coming home to spank her and put soap in her mouth, the complaint reads. The older sister said her youngest sibling was worried and told her "help me please, he's gonna kill me."

The youngest girl said that when her dad got home, he grabbed a ruler and pushed her onto her stomach on a couch. He put one of his legs on hers, held her hands with one of his and spanked her. He then grabbed her by the hair, dragged her across the floor and put soap in her mouth. The girl said she also had soap up her nose and in her eyes and when she spit some out, her father put more in.

The middle sister said she heard her father threatening to put soap in her sister's mouth and beating her. At one point, he was sitting on top of her with the soap and "pouring it down her throat," according to the complaint.

Investigators asked the elder sister if there was any other time when her father might have been physical with his younger daughters. She said yes, when the family visited Busch Gardens Water Country USA on Aug. 13. During the visit, Hayter became angry with the youngest and dragged her by the hair through a hotel room, according to the complaint.

Father defends himself to investigators

The social services worker contacted Hayter at least twice during the investigation, including on Sept. 6, according to the complaint. Hayter told her that he was frustrated on Aug. 28 because he thought his children would have arrived at the pool that day after a certain amount of time.

Hayter said he spanked his youngest daughter but used his hand. He said he grabbed liquid soap, and threatened to put it on his daughter's lips, but she knocked it away.

"Mr. Hayter said that none of this is true, it's just his ex-wife trying to get custody of the kids. Mr. Hayter said they went to the pool and everything was good," Cline said in the complaint.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Brunswick, MD first responder charged with child abuse