Lawson parents charged with more than 50 counts of child abuse in Ray County

Tiffany Gorham and Joseph Gorham

LAWSON, Mo. — Combined, a Lawson man and woman are facing 52 counts of child abuse in Ray County.

Joseph Gorham and Tiffany Gorham have each been charged with 26 counts of abuse or neglect of a child. They both face six Felony B counts, meaning the alleged abuse caused serious emotional or physical injury, and 20 Felony D counts.

According to court documents, someone called the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline on March 28 about an 8-year-old girl being abused by her parents.

During a forensic interview, the little girl told officials her parents allegedly hit her for unknown reasons, at first using their hands and then eventually switching to cords, belts, switches, boards or wooden paddles. The 8-year-old said as one parent hit her, the other held her down.

Court documents say one weekend in December 2017 that Joseph Gorham allegedly beat the girl with a plastic tube from a vacuum cleaner, leaving her with bruises on her forehead, cheeks, hands, arms, legs and bottom.

The 8-year-old told her grandparents, who took photos of her injuries from that alleged abuse and another incident in March 2018 and later showed them to staff at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

According to court documents, the girl told officials both parents allegedly abused her and told her if she said anything, she would get more bruises. The girl said she had missed a lot of school because her parents wanted to keep her bruises hidden.

In interviews with officials, the little girl’s brother, aunt and grandparents all confirmed incidents of alleged abuse.

The grandparents and aunt also told police that Joseph Gorham had repeatedly said what he would do to anyone who took his children from him.

“He talked about chemicals that would clean up blood so no traces were left behind, ways to torture someone and keep them alive for weeks, and how deep to bury a body so cadaver dogs couldn’t pick up the scent,” court documents say.

Family members said Gorham said they were his kids and he would discipline them as he saw fit, court records say.