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BOONE — A married couple was arrested on March 22 on allegations of physical abuse against a child they were fostering.

Kelly Ann Filson, 41, and John Thomas Filson, 48, both of 255 Appalachian Drive, Boone, were each charged with one count of misdemeanor child abuse. According to the Boone Police Department, on March 1, the BPD Criminal Investigations Division received a referral from the Watauga County Department of Social Services.

According to the warrants for their arrests, the Filsons were foster parents of the victim, who was a child under the age of 16. Watauga DSS Director Tom Hughes said no reports of abuse had been made against foster parents licensed through Watauga DSS in at least 13 years, but there had been reports made against individuals who had gone through private, licensed agencies to become foster parents. Hughes added that Watauga DSS has not investigated any reports of abuse against foster parents licensed elsewhere.

In the case of the Filsons, Hughes confirmed they became foster parents though a private agency, and that Ashe County DSS is conducting the investigation. According to Hughes, any investigation of a foster parent that has a link to county operations is handled by a different DSS agency due to potential conflicts of interest. On the report filed by Boone Police at the time of his arrest, John Filson was listed as being employed as a firefighter for the Boone Fire Department, while no employer was listed for Kelly Filson.

The warrant for Kelly Filson’s arrest alleged she forced the victim to “run on a treadmill for extended periods of time as a form of punishment” between Dec. 15, 2020, and March 1. John Filson is accused of inflicting physical injury that caused “bruising to left ear, right ear, left face, left forearm, left and right buttocks, right hand and right upper arm” to the victim over the same time frame, according to the warrant for his arrest.

According to Boone Police, the child was taken out of the home.

The Filsons turned themselves in, according to Boone Police, and were each issued a $1,000 secured bond and May 22 court dates. According to Boone Police, the Filsons posted bond while at the magistrate’s office and were released.

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