A Laurel County teacher and his wife are facing misdemeanor child abuse charges after their 2-year-old was found with severe bruising on the hips buttocks and lower back by daycare personnel.

Chandler Scott Cook, 27, who teaches social studies at South Laurel Middle School and Jaclyn Amanda Cook, 26, were each charged with one count of fourth-degree assault — (child abuse) Thursday following an investigation by Kentucky State Police detectives Mark Allen and Mike Bowling.

KSP Lt. Curtis O’Bannon said daycare personnel contacted social services after finding the bruises about 8:30 a.m. Social services then reported the incident to Kentucky State Police. The Cooks were brought to KSP Post 11 in London as part of the investigation. Though the Cooks declined to make any statements, O’Bannon said the investigation revealed the child had been struck multiple times. O’Bannon said police are continuing to investigate what the child may have been struck with.

“It doesn’t appear the bruising was accidental,” O’Bannon said, noting the injuries were not life-threatening.

O’Bannon said the child was taken to Saint Joseph-London for examination. The child and a sibling have been removed from the Cooks’ custody and placed with family members.

Assistant Superintendent Greg Smith said Scott Cook has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, as per school policy.

“He will not be at school or have any teaching responsibilities,” Smith said.

Smith said in his time with the school system, this is the first time he has seen this situation involving a school system employee.

The Cooks pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday in Laurel District Court. They have been released from jail on bond pending the outcome of the case.

Under Kentucky Law, fourth-degree assault is a misdemeanor charge carrying a potential sentence of up to one year in jail.

Staff writer Dean Manning may be reached at dmanning@sentinel-echo.com

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