In Need of Care

Hearing set to clarify record in child torture case

A prosecutor’s plea to get more information from the Kansas Department for Children and Families in the case of a girl diagnosed as a victim of child torture will be heard Jan. 9.

Sedgwick County District Court Judge Patrick Walters will consider the pleading at a pre-trial conference that already had been scheduled in the case.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office asked for a hearing to determine how many times people reached out to the state agency charged with protecting children to try to get help for the girl. The Eagle has been writing about the case as part of its “In Need of Care” series. The newspaper is not naming the girl or her parents to protect her.

A child-in-need-of-care petition filed April 1 on behalf of the girl and the other children in the home alleges that the parents at times chained the girl in a windowless basement room with an alarm on the door and gave her a bucket to use as a toilet.

The petition said the report that prompted the girl’s removal from her home this spring was the ninth time in a little more than five years that someone had voiced concerns about her welfare to the state.

But prosecutors, acting on questions raised by The Eagle after the newspaper received a tip, recently discovered eight more reports of suspected abuse of the girl, bringing the total to 17. Those eight reports are from 2010 until this year.

The girl was 14 and weighed 66 pounds in March when police took her and three other children in her adoptive parents’ home into protective custody. The parents are accused of abusing the girl from the time she was 9.

Prosecutors have accused the 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, a criminal complaint says.

The girl’s parents have denied the allegations. They face a trial next month in the child-in-need-of-care case.

They also face criminal 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.

Their preliminary hearings on the criminal charges were rescheduled a seventh time last week and are now set for Jan. 27.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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