A grand jury in Paulding County, Georgia, has indicted a couple on 10 felony counts pertaining to the alleged abuse of the woman's 18-year-old son.
The indictment charges the young man's mother and stepfather with two counts of false imprisonment, seven counts of cruelty to children and a single count of kidnapping. No bond was granted for the couple.
The young man turned 18 in September. According to the indictment, the parents kept him locked in a room throughout his childhood, would not feed him, refused to seek medical treatment for him and abused him physically.
This family is not unknown to law-enforcement officials. In 2009, state child-services officials asked the Cherokee County Sheriff's office to go to the family home to investigate a report of possible abuse. The family lived in that county at the time, and officials saw no signs that a child had been abused there, according to law enforcement.
Based on the sheriff's office's findings, the state Department of Family and Children's Services closed the case.
However, law enforcement took action when in September after a retired police sergeant in a major west coast city saw the 18-year-old male. The officer questioned the young man, who told him he had not attended school since eighth grade and had been subjected to child abuse over a number of years.
The young man said that his head had been wrapped in a blanket by his stepfather and he was then allegedly told to take a bus out of town. The stepfather supposedly provided the young man with a list of homeless shelters and some cash.
Officials previously investigated claims against the couple and found there were no grounds to accuse them of child abuse. Since the young man was not found in the family home, investigators could have a difficult time proving the prosecutors' case.
There are many unanswered questions in this case. First, it is unknown at this time if there is any proof that the young man hadn't attended school over the last five years. Also, are these claims the result of the young man being cruelly forced to move out on his own? Many young people resent their parents for teaching them independence and responsibility once they become an adult. Are these allegations a result of such measures being taken by the teen's parents? All of these issues will more than likely be investigated by the defendants' attorneys. While child abuse is a serious accusation, it is important to realize that until such claims can be substantiated, the accused are innocent.
Source: Cherokee Tribune, "Ga. couple indicted on charges of starving son," Oct. 24, 2012