Murdered boy's mother speaks of abuse for first time

FRESNO, Calif.

Rena Ireland has lied about abuse to her sons so often, it's become instinct.

"Jervon's never been beaten by Lebaron," she told an attorney representing her younger son, Jervon Ireland, in a lawsuit against Fresno County and CPS.

Ireland quickly changed her testimony, admitting Lebaron Vaughn actually hit the boy at least once.

Vaughn is the man who -- Ireland says -- turned her into a liar. Months after he moved into a southwest Fresno duplex with Ireland and her two sons, Vaughn started abusing Seth Ireland -- then eight years old.

"The beatings would usually include hitting?" asked attorney James Makasian.

"Yes," Rena Ireland said.

"They would include slapping?" Makasian asked.

"Yes," Ireland said.

"Would it include throwing the kids into the wall, excuse me, throwing Seth into the wall?"" Makasian asked.

"Sometimes, yes," Ireland said.

Between August 2008 and the deadly beating Vaughn gave Seth in December, Ireland lied to police and CPS at least three times about the abuse to her son.

Ireland is mildly mentally challenged and says Vaughn manipulated her with mind games and physical threats.

Four years later, Ireland still lives with the fear, even though Vaughn is serving a life sentence for Seth's murder.

"Are you afraid of Lebaron now?" Makasian asked her.

"Yes," she said.

"He's in prison now, correct?" Makasian asked.

"Yes," Ireland said.

"Why are you afraid of him?" Makasian asked.

"Because he just might come out," Ireland answered.

Ireland says she tried to send signals to CPS investigators, but they never asked her if she was afraid of Vaughn. She says they also never asked to look under Seth's clothing to check for bruises. And, they never looked for the skateboard her younger son claimed he fell off, causing bruises. The little boy testified he never had a skateboard.

But the abuse may not have been so obvious. Two police officers who responded to an abuse report said they didn't see any signs of physical trauma.

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