KC couple charged with locking girl in basement
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City couple was taken into custody Wednesday on charges that they confined a 9-year-old girl in a basement with a sewage leak, failed to seek treatment for her severe infections and only allowed her to go to the bathroom outdoors.
Jackson County prosecutors waited until the girl’s 30-year-old father and his 27-year-old live-in girlfriend were in custody to announce that they had been charged Tuesday with one count each of abuse or neglect of a child, child endangerment and felonious restraint. They each are being held on $100,000 bond, according to court records.
The Associated Press is withholding their names to protect the girl’s identity. Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said in an email he didn’t know whether the couple has an attorney. None are listed for them in online court records.
Authorities were called Friday after a school nurse in the Kansas City suburb of Independence became concerned. The girl, who had been sent to the nurse’s office, reeked of urine, a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy wrote in the probable cause statement.
The girl told the nurse she was locked in a basement at home with little food and water as punishment for a recent school suspension, according to the probable cause statement.
She also told the nurse her “private parts hurt” and was taken to a hospital to be evaluated, the probable cause statement said. While receiving treatment, the girl said she couldn’t remember the last time she used the restroom inside the home. The girl is now in state foster care, Mansur said.
At the home in Kansas City, deputies found sewage leaking into the unfinished basement and discovered the girl had been sleeping on a deflated air mattress. Her clothes were outside the home in a small pile, covered in dirt and smelling of mildew. The door from the basement to the outside wouldn’t close, the probable cause statement said.
Deputies described the upstairs, where the father, his girlfriend and her son slept, as clean and generally tidy. There was a lock and chain on a door separating the upstairs from the basement stairs and an alarm that sounded when it opened, the probable cause statement said.
The girlfriend told authorities that the girl “prefers to spend time in the basement” because she doesn’t want to be around the family and began sleeping down there in February because of toileting accidents that had ruined several mattresses. She added that she believed the girl urinated on herself purposefully to “keep people away,” the probable cause statement said.
The girlfriend said she also began forcing the girl to urinate and defecate outside about three weeks ago after contracting a urinary tract infection that she believed she caught from using the same toilet as the child, the deputy wrote.
The father said he bathes the girl “every five days or so.” He said the girl doesn’t like to bathe, possibly because she was sexually and physically assaulted in the shower, although the probable cause statement doesn’t indicate who committed that abuse. The father acknowledged that failing to bathe the girl caused severe yeast and staph infections. He said he didn’t seek treatment because “what difference would it make,” the deputy wrote.
The father also said he doesn’t regularly wash the girl’s clothes because he doesn’t own a working washing machine, the probable cause statement said.
The father said that as a punishment for being suspended, he “popped” the girl in the mouth and “whooped” her bottom before confining her to the basement with bottled water and a packed lunch while he was at work.
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