(AP)–An eastern Ohio couple pleaded guilty to punishing their three children
by forcing them into plastic storage boxes sealed with duct tape and
only a square cut in the top for air.
A prosecutor said the children, ages 5, 6 and 8, were crammed into the
boxes as punishment June 16 at the family home in Steubenville while the
parents went to the grocery store and left two uncles at home with
them. A friend of the family arrived at the house, got the children out
of the boxes and contacted police.
Their father, James Taylor, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of
child endangerment and one count of unlawful restraint. The plea deal
calls for a year in jail. His wife, Samantha Taylor, the children's
stepmother, pleaded guilty to the same charges and likely will serve two
years of probation.
The clerk's office said a sentencing date for the pair has not been set.
The two uncles pleaded guilty to unlawful restraint and were sentenced
to a year of probation. Prosecutors said they helped put the children in
the boxes, with one of them cutting the air holes.
Authorities said the children were in the boxes for about 15 to 30
minutes, with square holes cut out of the lids to expose the top part of
their faces. There was no indication they had been put in the boxes
before, but Jefferson County prosecutor Jeffrey J. Bruzzese said it was
part of a cycle of abuse by the parents that included having weights
dropped on their feet.
Bruzzese said it was apparent that water was dumped on top of the
children while they were restrained in the totes. All the punishment was
meted out at James Taylor's direction, the prosecutor said.
Bruzzese told WTOV-TV that the children are now living with relatives
and doing well. He did not return a call to The Associated Press on
Steubenville is on the Ohio-West Virginia border, about 150 miles east of Columbus.
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