Prosecutor: Children tortured “for sadistic purposes”
FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Children removed from a squalid California home described acts of intentional abuse that resulted in puncture wounds, burns, bruising and injuries consistent with being shot with a pellet gun, authorities said Monday.
Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County, said she was “horrified” by the statements from the children and that torture was carried out in the house “for sadistic purposes.” She declined to elaborate.
“It literally breaks your heart, and you’re outraged by how a parent or anyone could commit those acts,” Henry said afterward.
Jonathan Allen, 29, the father of the children, has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of torture and nine counts of felony child abuse. He is being held on $5.2 million bail.
Police in Fairfield said earlier Monday that the 10 children, ages 4 months to 12 years, had been removed from their home March 31 after their mother, Ina Rogers, 30, reported her oldest child was missing.
Police found filthy conditions in the home shared by Rogers and Allen, police Lt. Greg Hurlbut said.
“Officers located unsafe and unsanitary living conditions including garbage and spoiled food on the floor, animal and human feces and a large amount of debris making areas of the house unpassable,” he said.
Rogers was arrested and released after posting $10,000 bail on April 9.
She gave reporters a tour of her house on Monday, denying that her husband had abused the children.
She said she feels she’s being judged for having so many children and choosing to home-school them.
The children did not require medical attention when they were removed. But stories about abuse came out gradually over the past six weeks and eight of the children told professionals about incidents dating back several years, authorities said.
Rogers told reporters she’s surprised police had leveled the most serious accusations against her husband, as he was not the disciplinarian of the family.
“There’s no broken bones, there is no major scars, nothing,” Rogers told reporters in front of her house. “My kids get bumped and bruised and scratched because they’re kids but that’s it.”
During the tour, the four-bedroom house in Fairfield, 46 miles (74 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, was messy with scuffed walls and animal feces in the bathroom.
Rogers said the children slept in one bedroom because they were close; cots were stored in a bedroom closet. The other rooms were used as a master bedroom, playroom and meditation room.
On the day the children were removed, the house was messy because she had just torn it apart looking for her missing son, who was angry because they had taken away his tablet computer, Rogers said.
She and her husband both came from broken homes and they wanted a large family, she said. Rogers said she works the graveyard shift as an EKG technician at a heart monitoring company and her husband is a tattoo artist.
Child protection officials made one prior visit to the home several years ago, Rogers said. She did not say why.
Court records do not indicate whether the parents have lawyers. Messages left with the Solano County public defender’s office were not returned.
Aleida Quartman, 23, who said she works with Rogers, said she spoiled her children and the messy house was just life with children, cats, a dog and fish.
“She told me she’s never lived alone and now that her kids are gone and her husband is gone, she’s just a mess,” Quartman said.
Peggy Allen, the mother of Jonathan Allen, said she had talked to Rogers about the condition of the home, saying it was important to keep a clean house. Allen said she is estranged from her son and that he has kept his family away from the children.
“We’re a Christian family and Jonathan has not been raised that way,” she said.
Neighbor Larry Magnaye said he had no idea there were 10 children living in the house across the street.
The parents would wave when leaving the driveway, but he never saw the children in the yard or heard them playing in the backyard pool.
“It’s a pretty big house,” he said. “But I don’t know how you can keep it quiet when you have 10 kids. I can’t keep it quiet with one, two you know?”
Separately, prosecutors in Riverside County filed eight new charges against a father accused of shackling and starving some of his 13 children, alleging that he lied on government forms about their schooling.
David and Louise Turpin previously pleaded not guilty to torture, child abuse and other charges in a case that has drawn international attention since the couple’s 17-year-old daughter escaped the family’s Perris, California, home in January.
This story has been corrected to list Allen’s age as 29.
Har reported from San Francisco.