CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The case of a McDowell County teenage girl allegedly being forced to drink turpentine while she was pregnant has caught the attention of a statewide advocacy group.


Margaret Chapman Pomponio

WV FREE Chief Executive Officer Margaret Chapman-Pomponio said her heart “broke wide open” when she heard about the incident.

“The headline should really highlight the fact that a child was raped and then poisoned,” she said. “There are so many unanswered questions from this atrocity.”

According to a criminal complaint, the girl told troopers that once her aunt, Sherry Kirk, found out she was pregnant She obtained turpentine from a man and Kirk made the girl drink it.

Kirk, of War, has been charged with trying to kill or injure a person by poisoning. She’s scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in McDowell County Magistrate Court this Thursday, Aug. 15, at 1:30 p.m. Troopers have also charged Daniel Atwell, 25, who allegedly had sex with the girl and the girl’s mother, Sharon Baker, who allegedly gave permission for it to happen.

“The fact that there was a man living in the home who had allegedly been encouraged to assault this minor is unthinkable,” Chapman-Pomponio said, adding the adults charged should have been helping the girl instead of harming her..

“This child has been robbed of her innocence by people who should have been protecting her,” Chapman-Pomponio said.

She said this may be a case of reproductive or sexual coercion, which according to The American College and Obstetricians and Gynecologists “involves behavior intended to maintain power and control in a relationship related to reproductive health by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent.”

Chapman-Pomponio is urging investigating officers to dig deep into the case.

“We, at WV FREE, desperately hope that the system of law and child advocates will do all that they can to offer support and honor what’s best for this child,” she said.

A preliminary hearing has yet to be set in the case against Altwell. The charges against Baker are also awaiting court action. All three defendants are currently free on bond.

State police began their investigation of the case after a receiving a complaint from Child Protective Services.

WV FREE advocates for reproductive health, rights and justice.