By Laura L. Myers
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state man accused of beating his 16-year-old daughter and forcing her to engage in a form of medieval sword fighting pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to assault charges.
Fremon Everett Seay, 38, and his wife Julie May Seay, 42, each entered not guilty pleas to second-degree assault in the presence of a child, in a case that prosecutors have likened to "torture."
Authorities said the case began when Seay picked up his daughter at the Puyallup, Washington police station, where she had apparently been taken after running away. He took her to his home in Yelm in the early morning hours of October 15.
Thurston County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Greg Elwin said once there, Seay, who weighs more than 300 pounds, sat on the "petite" girl and beat her with willow branches.
Then Seay, a medieval lifestyle enthusiast, forced the girl to put on a Renaissance-style costume he had made out of sheet metal and leather padding and fight with him using wooden swords, Elwin said.
When his daughter collapsed after two hours of sword fighting, Seay and his wife, the girl's stepmother, forced her to strip to her underwear before she fell asleep on the couch, Elwin said.
The 16-year-old was made to sleep between the couple in their bed, Elwin said. He said no sexual contact is alleged.
The assault is described in court documents as committed "with a deadly weapon or knowingly inflicted bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture." No horses were involved.
Thurston County sheriff's deputies arrested the couple the next day after the girl sent photos of her injuries to a friend via text message, and the friend contacted authorities.
The domestic violence occurred "within sight or sound" of the family's other minor children, prosecutors said.
Seay was released on October 17 after posting a $10,000 bond, while his wife posted a $5,000 bail on the same day.
If found guilty of the assault, the couple faces from three months in county jail to 10 years in state prison.
The girl is now living with her mother in Puyallup, authorities said.
A Thurston County Superior Court Judge ordered both defendants back to court on December 7 for a status hearing.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)