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Kingsport couple accused of abusing infants

Rain Smith • Sep 12, 2018 at 12:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The alleged abuse of twin three-month-old children has led to multiple felony charges against their father, while the victims' mother is accused of turning a blind eye to his actions.

William Luke, 29, and Mercedes Hanifin, 27, were arrested Friday by Kingsport police. In February, the Kingsport Police Department began investigating injuries inflicted to the children, who were born in November of last year.

In June, the case was presented to a Sullivan County grand jury, resulting in eight felony charges against Luke. He faces four counts of aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony, and four counts of aggravated domestic assault, a Class C felony. The incidents are believed to have occurred between Feb. 13 and 20.

Hanifin was charged with two counts of aggravated assault by failure to protect, a Class C felony. She allegedly knew about Luke's abuse but did nothing to intervene.

The Sullivan County District Attorney's Office reports the infants received care at Niswonger Children's Hospital in Johnson City. Citing their juvenile status and pending prosecution of the case, the extent of their injuries — and how they were inflicted — was not specified.

On Wednesday, both suspects remained held in the Sullivan County jail in Blountville. Luke's bond was set at $75,000, while Hanifin's was $15,000.

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