A couple of wannabe bodybuilders in South Carolina forced their teen daughter to live in the woods as punishment for eating a Pop-Tart, authorities say.
Crystal and James Driggers were arrested Friday and charged with neglect after police say they found the couple’s 14-year-old in a tent about a quarter-mile from their rural Dalzell home. The girl’s grandmother had called police, according to the arrest report.
The Driggers, who were released after a bond hearing on Monday, did not respond to requests for comment.
“They were upset because the child ate a Pop-Tart,” Braden Bunch of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office told The Daily Beast.
On Thursday morning, according to the sheriff’s office, the iron-pumping parents banished the girl to the nearby woods, which are stomping grounds for wild hogs. They allegedly provided her only with a roll of toilet paper, a flashlight, a whistle and a watch for her outdoor sentence, which was supposed to last a week.
“She was out there for two days and was expected by her parents to stay out there for another five,” Bunch told The Daily Beast. “The parents have confirmed to us exactly what they were planning.”
The girl was told if she wanted food, she’d have to come to a fence on the family’s property at certain times, police said. At one point, a member of the Drigger household delivered a cold can of SpaghettiOs to the girl, police said.
The tough punishment was intended to “make her feel how it would be to be homeless,” the concerned grandma told cops, according to the police report.
But when the weather turned stormy Thursday night, the grandmother brought the girl to her house. She then texted her son, 33-year-old James Driggers, who became upset with her for interfering, the report says.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they say James assured them that the girl would return home that night. The dad reportedly described the teen as a “problem child” who was causing trouble at home and at school.
The next day, officers say they discovered the teenager was back in the tent, which had been moved closer to the Drigger residence. Crystal Driggers, 36, allegedly told one deputy, “Now maybe we can get some help for her. Y’all wouldn’t help before.”
Crystal also claimed the police told her it was OK for her daughter to be in the woods as long as there was no lightning, according to the report.
It’s unclear what the Driggers’ motives may have been for the teen’s alleged discipline. Bunch told The Daily Beast that Crystal Driggers may actually be the girl’s stepmother.
The raven-haired and tattooed Crystal Driggers is a “coach” with the Beachbody home fitness program. On her Facebook page, she hawks the company’s workout DVDs and color-coded meal portion containers.
“I am a busy mother of six and I know how hard it can be to squeeze in fitness and nutrition,” she wrote on her company profile. “Let me help you find the time to be happy and healthy!”
The muscle-building mother has also published videos of herself lifting weights and of her children joining her dance workouts.
On June 3, Crystal posted a photo of her younger children and wrote, “Sometimes with all the teen drama that comes with the three older girls I lose sight of how much fun they can be. I working on changing that. [sic]”
After Friday’s arrest, the teen girl is in custody with the South Carolina Department of Social Services, while her siblings are with relatives, police said.
Sumter County officials said an investigation into the incident is ongoing. Police are investigating a pattern of “excessive punishment for small household offenses,” Bunch said.
The girl punished for the Pop-Tart was also disciplined for eating a protein bar, authorities said. She told investigators that Crystal Driggers took her to the salon to get her hair cut short as punishment, according to a police report.
Meanwhile, deputies say they have also learned the 14-year-old was recently ordered to do yard work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during a heat wave.
“She would have to use the restroom outside and retrieve water from a water hose,” one investigator wrote in a report. “[She] stated that if she got really hungry, she would climb into the garage window and get food from the other refrigerator.”
The Driggers are also facing unrelated charges for discharging a firearm into a dwelling in December 2013, the sheriff's department said. The couple was outside on their property and “started shooting guns off,” Bunch told The Daily Beast.
Still, the Driggers’ fellow fitness buffs are standing up for them on social media.
“Crystal Driggers and James Driggers. If we had more parents like these 2 the world would be a much better place,” Melissa Korstange, who appears to be a family friend, wrote on a Facebook post.
Beachbody coach Stella McCauley, wrote that the Driggers “are both great people” and that they’re likely the targets of “jealousy.”
“I don’t understand why people have to start drama and BS for them,” McCauley posted on Facebook. “They have a successful business and have worked very hard to get where they are.”