LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A former Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer accused of choking and beating his stepson in 2020 pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of felony child abuse, neglect, or endangerment and one count of misdemeanor child abuse, neglect, or endangerment.
John Woodruff was initially charged with three counts of child abuse, one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse, and one count of domestic battery by strangulation at the time of the incident.
Between April and May of 2020, Woodruff and the victim’s mother, Destini Woodruff, allegedly whipped and choked the child and forced him to wear girl’s clothes to school as punishment.
Destini texted the boy’s biological father in May and said that instead of returning the child when he was due to go back to his father’s house, she was going to keep him for a few more days to teach him that he can’t “get away with it” after she said he bullied his sister, according to Woodruff’s arrest report.
Destini then sent the boy’s father photos of bruises on his body, saying that he had been whipped days before, though investigators believed it was more recent, the report said.
Bruising was also seen on the child’s lower back, butt, leg, and neck, the report said.
The child later told police that his mom spanked him with her hand but that Woodruff smacked him with a belt before grabbing him by the neck and lifting him off the ground. The child said that he couldn’t breathe and soiled himself, according to the report.
“[The boy’s] mother and stepdad have also disciplined the child by making him wear girls’ clothing and shaming him,” detectives wrote in the report.
Detectives found that Woodruff was also suspected of and questioned for alleged child abuse against a 3-year-old non-verbal autistic child in 2018.
Because Woodruff pleaded guilty to the reduced charges Wednesday, he is facing a sentence of one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000, according to documents.
Woodruff will not be eligible for probation unless a psychologist reports that he is not at risk of reoffending, documents said.
Destini was charged with several counts of child abuse and one count of domestic battery by strangulation.
John and Destini were both employed by LVMPD from 2016 up to the incident.