JEFFERSON, Ohio (AP) — A husband and wife were sentenced to 10 years in prison for keeping their four adopted children locked inside bedrooms for all but a few hours a day without food to eat or beds to sleep on and forced them to use buckets and containers for toilets.
The couple, age 60 and 66, pleaded guilty in May to endangering children and felonious assault charges in Ashtabula County, about 60 miles east of Cleveland. The Associated Press is not naming the couple because the husband previously faced sexual abuse charges involving their two adopted teenage daughters. Those charges were dropped in a plea deal.
The children were allowed out of their rooms for only two hours a day to use the bathroom and do homework, authorities said. Bedroom windows were boarded up and covered so the children couldn’t see outside.
Defense attorneys told the (Ashtabula) Star Beacon on Monday that the couple’s discipline of the children went too far but said the home wasn’t a “house of horrors.” They had sought probation for the couple.
Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci called living conditions in the Dorset Township home “deplorable.”
Authorities removed three of the children from the home in 2013 after the two daughters escaped and crashed the family’s van. The girls were 17 and 14 at the time.
An assistant county prosecutor read a statement written by the oldest daughter that said she and her siblings would be paddled 10 times for each mistake on their homework. Authorities seized a blood-stained paddle from the home.
In a statement read by one of the attorneys, the husband told the judge that his inability to parent children he described as having special needs was “disheartening” and he apologized for his failures, the Star Beacon reports.
The wife told the judge on Monday that she was sorry for having hurt the children and hoped “they find peace and full lives as I have tried and failed to do.”