A Missouri woman accused of severe child abuse will serve seven years' prison time for her role in the child endangerment. The 28-year-old woman entered a guilty plea in January in connection with the abuse, which reportedly involved locking a school-aged girl in her basement without adequate access to food or washroom facilities. The child's father, age 30, may also be facing jail time for his involvement in the incident.
Authorities say that the child was forced to stay in the basement after she was suspended from school. An investigation showed that the basement's walls and floor were tainted with mold. Further, the unfinished basement was filthy and lit with only a single dim bulb. It appeared that the girl had been using an air mattress in the basement for three months, according to a prosecuting attorney.
In addition to reportedly depriving the girl of food and water, the two adults were also accused of refusing to allow the child adequate access to the restroom. The child told authorities that she had been forced to go to the bathroom outside, and she lacked adequate toiletries to clean herself. An investigation into the matter was launched after the child arrived at school smelling of urine; the girl was later taken to the hospital, where she told staff that she did not remember the last time she was allowed to use the bathroom inside her home.
Even though the adults in this case are accused of horrific child abuse violations, they still have legal rights in court. An arrest or arraignment for child neglect and endangering the welfare of a child does not mean that the defendant is immediately considered guilty. Both defendants in this case decided to plead guilty, which allowed them the opportunity to negotiate with prosecutors. Although guilty pleas are appropriate for some defendants, they do not fit every criminal case, and the decision to enter a guilty plea should be carefully examined.
Source: The Kansas City Star, "Woman who locked 9-year-old girl in basement gets seven years in prison" Glenn E. Rice, Apr. 25, 2014