In Need of Care: Trial for parents accused of beating adopted daughter continued to October

07/18/2014 9:51 AM

08/14/2014 3:34 PM

A judge granted a 60-day continuance Friday for parents accused of beating their adopted daughter, keeping her in a windowless room in the basement and chaining her at times to a bed.

Sedgwick County District Judge Patrick Walters set a child-in-need-of-care trial, also called an adjudication hearing, for Oct, 20, 21 and 22. The trial had been scheduled for Aug. 4 and 5. He also set a pre-trial conference for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3.

Police put the girl and three adopted siblings into protective custody March 28, and prosecutors filed a child-in-need-of-care petition on behalf of the children April 1. The Eagle has been following the case since then as part of its “In Need of Care” series examining child abuse and neglect in the county.

The parents have denied allegations that, a social worker said during one court hearing, led a doctor to diagnose the girl as a victim of child torture. The 14-year-old girl weighed 66 pounds when police removed her from the home. The parents adopted the girl 10 years ago when she was 4. Her biological mother was deemed unfit because of neglect, once leaving her in a crib for 16 hours, according to court documents.

Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the adoptive parents June 9. Prosecutors accuse the adoptive parents of beating the girl with a foam hard-core bat and a broken curtain rod “whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement or death” could have been inflicted, among other charges.

The father faces three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child, one count of criminal restraint and one count of criminal damage to property. The mother faces the same charges with the exception of criminal damage to property. The father is accused of kicking the window out of the frame on one of the back-seat doors of a sheriff’s car while investigators were executing a search warrant at his home in April.

The Eagle is not naming the parents because doing so would identify the girl and her siblings.

Michael Cleary, a lawyer who is representing the parents in the child-in-need-of-care case, asked Friday about when he and Philip White, who is representing the parents in the criminal case, would be able to interview the children. A no-contact order is in place in the criminal case that prohibits the parents from seeing or speaking to the children.

Prosecutor Sandra Lessor said she would get in touch with the children’s therapists but said she didn’t think lawyers should interview the children unless the judge in the criminal case gave his OK.

Cleary made the argument that if talking about the alleged abuse was too hurtful for the children, they also shouldn’t talk to prosecutors.

The parents are scheduled to be in court Aug. 12 for a preliminary hearing in the criminal case.

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