Grand jury to hear unusual child abuse case

LENOIR CITY (WATE) - A Lenoir City couple waived their right for a preliminary hearing on child abuse charges Wednesday in Loudon County general sessions court.

The charges stemmed from an accidental shooting involving the mother and one of her children. Stacy Duggan was arrested and charged with child abuse after she was shot in September.

Her husband, Dan Duggan, is facing the same charges.

Authorities say the couple's 11-year-old son found a loaded gun in his room, fired it and hit his mother in the head.

After an investigation, both parents were arrested for child abuse.

"It's a child neglect case,"said Lt. Patrick Upton of Loudon County Sheriffs Office. "It's a case where a gun probably shouldn't have been left where it was left. Someone could have got killed."

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services has the couple's four children in state custody. DCS has granted occasional visitation rights to the family.

Stacy Duggan said the couple sees the children once a week for six hours.

"I just can't wait to get my kids back home," she said.

The case will be presented to a Loudon County grand jury. The earliest the jury will meet is April 15, 2013. A criminal court date will be set afterwards, if the couple is indicted.

"It wouldn't change nothing that's going to re-arrest me. I'll get a chance to speak to the grand jury," Dan Duggan said.