Authorities have arrested a woman and her parents on child abuse charges in the death of an 11-year-old girl earlier this year. This woman was a high-profile member of a megachurch in San Diego.
A San Diego County sheriff’s department report said Tuesday that Leticia McCormack, 49, and her parents, Stanley Tom, 75, and Adella Tom, 70, were arrested in the August death of 11-year-old Arabella McCormack.
Stanley Tom and Leticia McCormack were arrested on three counts of torture each, as well as one count of murder, according to the sheriff’s department. The charges against Adella Tom included three counts of torture and three counts of willful cruelty to a child.
It was reported Wednesday that all three pleaded not guilty at their first court hearing.
She had two sisters, ages six and seven, who were placed with foster families, according to the sheriff’s department.
McCormack and her husband became foster parents to Arabella and her two younger sisters in 2017 and then adopted them all.
Arabella McCormack and her two sisters were abused and tortured for five-and-a-half years, according to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors.
An officer responded to a call of a child in distress in the early morning hours of Aug. 30 at a home in Spring Valley, San Diego County, according to the sheriff’s department. Arabella, the child, died after being rushed to a local hospital.
Sheriff’s officials reported that detectives suspected Arabella’s adoptive father, Brian McCormack, was abusing her and that he had committed suicide in their presence while deputies conducted their investigation. McCormack worked for the Border Patrol, according to the U-T.
Leticia McCormack was a high-profile member of Rock Church San Diego, which has several campuses in the county. The church told CBS News on Thursday that McCormack was never a pastor at Rock Church but was “ordained as an elder at another church under the Assemblies of God.”
Church officials said ordained elders work on a volunteer basis with multiple tasks but have a “limited scope.” They said her ordination was “previously suspended, and the decision was made to revoke it.”
It added that it “no longer has any official relationship with Leticia.”
“We have received notice that Leticia and her parents have been arrested as a result of the sheriff’s department investigation,” according to a statement by the church. “We continue to grieve for Arabella and her sisters. We are so sorry that their family and friends are experiencing this unimaginable loss and pain.”