Singer Mindy McCready has received a boost in her custody battle for her son - her grandmother has submitted court documents alleging she witnessed "harsh discipline" towards the boy while he was in the care of the country star's mum.
MCCready lost custody of Zander in 2007 following drug abuse and battery charges and her mother, Gayle Inge, was subsequently appointed his legal guardian.
The singer has been fighting to regain legal care of five-year-old Zander ever since, and she hit headlines earlier this month (Dec11) after failing to return the boy to his father Bill MCKnight's Florida home following a visit.
MCKnight filed a missing persons report and a judge ordered MCCready to return the child by a specified deadline. She defied the court ruling and it was left to U.S. Marshals to track her and Zander down to Arkansas, where the boy was later placed in foster care.
MCCready, who is six months pregnant with twins, opened up about her actions during an emotional interview with U.S. news show 20/20, on which she also went public with sensational claims Zander was abused while in Inge's care.
She said, "Zander was being beaten with a wooden spoon. There are scars on Zander's back, there are scars on his bottom and his legs, from the spoon."
Fighting back tears, MCCready added, "She looks like a sweet 55-year-old grandma. That sweet grandma is not sweet at all. He (Zander) says that Nana... is so mean that her heart is black and that she's so mean she doesn't know how to be nice to anyone."
Inge has issued an emphatic denial in response to the abuse allegations, but Inge's own mother, Joan Stancel, has since come forward and voiced her fears for Zander's safety.
In a sworn affidavit obtained by 20/20 producers, Stancel claims to have witnessed Zander being subjected to "harsh discipline", including being "jerked by the arm" and "hit with a wooden spoon". She adds, "I feared that Zander would be physically harmed permenantley (sic)."
MCCready's custody battle has been boosted after authorities decided against charging the troubled star with kidnapping and, after a closed-door court session in Arkansas last Monday (05Dec11), the singer reveals things are finally looking up.
Speaking on 20/20, which aired on Friday night (09Dec11), she added, "Zander is in Arkansas and this is where he is going to stay, for the time being... I hope (I get him back) for Christmas, I really do."
MCCready is due back in court this week (begs12Dec11) to continue her custody battle.