Boy allegedly abused by parents had 'orangey tint' to skin from carrot-based diet, witness claims

Police arrested the adoptive parents of a 6-year-old boy after a witness claimed he was locked in a basement with no lights or bathroom facilities each night, and fed a diet largely based on carrots.  Clarissa Anne Tobiasson, 27, and Brett Parker Tobiasson, 31, are now facing felony child abuse charges, Fox 8 reported.

A witness to the alleged abuse said they “noticed the child had an ‘orangey’ tint to his skin,” a press release from the Utah County Sheriff's Office said, according to Fox 8.  The witness claimed to have brought a pizza to the home for dinner, only for the boy to allegedly be told by Clarissa that he could not eat any unless he finished his carrots within a 15-minute time limit. The boy did not finish in time and was denied pizza, according to the press release.

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“He would be required to eat carrots before every meal and if he did not finish them with a certain time limit he would not be allowed to eat the rest of the meal,” the press release said, of the unidentified boy. “In another instance he was disciplined for eating samples at a local store when he knew he was supposed to eat carrots before anything else.”

According to the Dermatology Clinic at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, eating foods high in beta-carotene can cause a yellowish discoloration of the skin, which is called carotenemia. It’s typically noticed in a person’s palms or soles, and usually occurs in children.

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The couple, who also adopted the boy’s 2-year-old brother and have a 2-month-old biological daughter, were investigated by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and arrested earlier this month. They each face one count of child abuse as a second-degree felony, with bail set at $10,000, Fox 8 reported.

The boy is now in the care of a grandmother, while the other two children are in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services.