Grand jury indicts couple for child abuse

Other incidents include statutory rape, break-in, stalking

The Cole County grand jury handed down several indictments this week, sending the cases onto the circuit court level where they could face trial.

Among those indicted were:

• A Jefferson City couple charged with inflicting physical and mental abuse against children younger than 18 in April.

Bhakti Gandhi, 34, is charged with child abuse and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Her husband, Darshan Gandhi, 36, is charged with two counts of child abuse.

A Jefferson City police report shows the victims were two girls, ages 5 and 9.

The 5-year-old was found to have burns on her ankle and on the top of one of her hands. The 9-year-old had a burn on her left hand.

Officers following up on a child abuse hotline call and had Darshan come to the police station after he told them in an earlier interview that he had threatened the girls with hot spoons.

Both children said Bhakti was present when Darshan had burned them with a spoon that he heated on a stove as a way to discipline them because he said the girls had misbehaved at a volleyball game.

The 9-year-old told investigators that she tried to run away from Bhakti and Darshan after witnessing the 5-year-old getting burned.

The 9-year-old said Bhakti helped hold her while Darshan placed the heated spoon on her hand.

Both children told investigators Darshan burned the 5-year-old with a spoon two years ago when the child was 3.

• A Jefferson City woman has been charged with two counts of second-degree statutory rape for having sex with a male under the age of 17.

Court documents show Tammy Robinett, 37, of 1120 Madeline Place, is also charged with second-degree sexual misconduct.

A police report shows officers were called to the victim’s home by his mother after the boy ran away from home in May.

The mother said the boy had confessed to having sex with Robinett.

The mother told her son to stay away from Robinett, but he would not. So the mother called 911 after the boy said he was going to be with Robinett in the woods.

Eventually the juvenile and Robinett were found. The juvenile told officers he and Robinett had sexual contact.

When questioned, Robinett admitted to having sex with the boy on two occasions, the second time while in the woods while officers were searching for them.

• Three Jefferson City residents are charged with attempting to break in to a business in February.

Byron Williams, 24, Julio Smith, 34, and Keshawn Sayles, 18, are each charged with one count of second-degree burglary.

Jefferson City police reports show officers responded to a possible burglary in progress at JT’s Kwik Shop, 301 Lafayette St.

A witness heard a loud banging noise and saw three men trying to break into the business. When officers arrived on the scene, the suspects fled the area, but officers were able to trace their direction through the snow to the 700 block of East McCarty Street and eventually take them into custody.

• A Holts Summit man has been charged with stalking a Cole County woman from February to April.

Court documents show Cole Holleman, 29, repeatedly harassed the victim by kicking the door to her residence while she was inside, blocking her car in a driveway and yelling at her and threatening to take her child out of a car.

He is also accused of trespassing on her property as well as calling her and sending text messages to her in violation of an order of protection she had against him.

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