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Stepdad accused of torturing stepdaughters with pliers and hammer

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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — A North Andover man is accused of torturing his stepdaughters during a five-year span by hitting them with a hammer, pulling on their tongues with pliers and threatening to have them raped and killed.

Justin Ladd, 33, faces 21 criminal counts including indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14. Ladd is accused of hitting the girls with a hammer and a 2-by-4, pulling at their tongues with pliers, touching them inappropriately and exposing himself.

Police say the abuse, which was reported two weeks ago, happened from 2003 to 2008 at a home on High Street in North Andover, Mass.

“The girls were always sad. Even if they had a smile on their face, you could see this sadness in their eyes,” one neighbor said.

Neighbors say police were called dozens of times over the years, but never saw anyone arrested.

“So you just always felt like, well, maybe it’s not bad, because if it was bad, things would be happening, the kids wouldn’t all be there,” a neighbor said.

The family moved out of the North Andover home about a year ago.

The girls are now in the care of the state Department of Children and Families.

Ladd was held without bail after his arraignment on Tuesday. He is due back in court on May 6.


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