A Blue Summit couple allegedly locked a 9-year-old girl in their basement and refused her bathroom privileges — forcing her to retreat outside when nature called, according to documents released Wednesday.
The girl told authorities that she had been locked in the basement, with little food or water, as punishment for a school suspension. She had been denied use of the bathroom because she had allegedly infected her father’s girlfriend with a rash.
She had also been sleeping on an air mattress in the dirty and dingy basement for three months, according to court records.
Jackson County prosecutors on Tuesday charged Timothy A. Phillips, 30, and Lacey A. Chaney, 27, each with first-degree child endangerment, abuse or neglect of a child and felonious restraint.
A school nurse told authorities, who went to the couple’s home Friday in the 1900 block of Hazel Avenue to talk to the girl’s father and his live-in girlfriend.
According to court records, the girl had been sent to the nurse’s office at Korte Elementary School in western Independence because she smelled strongly of urine. The girl told the nurse that her “private parts” hurt. The nurse noted redness and irritation on the girl’s vaginal area.
The victim later told hospital staff that she could not remember the last time she was allowed to use her home’s restroom.
Her father’s girlfriend told Jackson County sheriff’s deputies that she had forced the girl to urinate and defecate outside for three weeks, since the girl allegedly had given her a rash by using the same toilet.
So the girl went outside through a broken basement door, using a cartoon character blanket to cover herself.
The child’s father and his girlfriend told deputies that they had locked the girl in the basement because of her apparent bladder control issues, but also as punishment for a recent school suspension.
Phillips told deputies that he “popped” the victim in the mouth and “whupped” her on the “butt” after she had been suspended. He said he confined the girl in the basement while he was at work.
He also kept her in the basement, he said, because he could not afford to keep cleaning up after her. He added that he bathed her “every five days or so,” adding that he has to “pick his battles” with her because she does not like to bathe.
Phillips acknowledged that not bathing the girl probably had contributed to her infection.
He added that he locked the basement door after providing her with food and water while he was at work.
Chaney said the girl was forced to sleep on a basement air mattress because they had to replace five traditional mattresses. The girl, Chaney said, had been sleeping in the basement since February.
Although Chaney’s son lived upstairs and had a pediatrician, Chaney could not give deputies a name for the girl’s pediatrician.
Authorities found the home’s main floor to be well lit and well kept, but the unfinished basement to be saturated in dirt and lit by a single light bulb. They noted a deflated air mattress near an exposed sewage pipe. An interior door leading to the basement was secured by a lock and chain and had been outfitted with an alarm that sounded when the door was opened.
Prosecutors requested a cash bond of $100,000 each for Phillips and Chaney.
In recent years, Phillips has pleaded guilty to drug-related and drunken-driving offenses in Camden County. The girl’s mother, who was divorced from Phillips last year, declined to comment Wednesday.
Blue Summit is an unincorporated district between east Kansas City and western Independence.
Hope Skinner, who lives across Hazel Avenue from the girl’s home, said she had never noticed anything that fit the offenses Phillips and Chaney are accused of committing.
“He would not have been our neighbor for long if we had known about this,” Skinner said.
Skinner said she did notice how the girl sometimes waited for lengthy periods for her school bus while wearing insufficient clothing.
“They sent that little girl out every morning at 7:15, with no coat, no nothing, but the bus didn’t come until much later,” Skinner said.