Pa. mom gets prison for beating, choking girl over Bible verses

She will serve up to 5 years in prison for beating and strangling her daughter, 13, because she couldn’t recite Bible verses

rhonda shoffner
Rhonda K. Shoffner (Dauphin County Prison)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Middletown woman will serve up to five years in state prison for beating, kicking and strangling her 13-year-old daughter because the girl couldn’t correctly recite Bible verses.

Rhonda Shoffner, 41, was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in prison after she pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated assault, strangulation, endangering the welfare of a child, and terroristic threats, Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico’s office said.

The girl told police her mother had been drunk for three days before the assault on March 14. She said she was ordered to get on her knees on a bathroom floor, and her mother started citing Bible passages and expected her to repeat the exact words.

When the girl couldn’t repeat the verses correctly, Shoffner slammed her head into a wall, kicked her in the head and stomach, bit her and threatened to kill her, and strangled her until she couldn’t breathe, prosecutors said.

The girl told police her mother eventually allowed her to get up and told her to “just leave and don’t ever come back.”

She said she fled the house wearing only a tank top and jeans, but was able to put on a coat and sneakers she grabbed on her way out the door as she ran down the street. A winter storm that day dumped more than a foot of snow.

Her father picked her up at a nearby fast food restaurant.

Shoffner also pleaded guilty to a simple assault charge related to a separate incident in January. In that incident, prosecutors said Shoffner hit and bit an adult woman victim during an argument in a car.

As part of her sentence, Shoffner must serve five years of probation, remain drug and alcohol-free, and get counseling. She will be subject to random drug and alcohol tests.

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