Recardo and Therian Wimbush were recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for three counts of second-degree cruelty.
According to AJC, the parents of ten children had locked one of their sons in a basement for 18 months as a disciplinary measure and ignored another son’s malignant tumor.
NY Daily News reports that the Gwinnett County, Georgia, police were sent to investigate after the Department of Child Services received an anonymous tip, about the son living in the basement, in June 2014.
During an interview with WSB-TV, police corporal Jake Smith said the boy was found living in a small room in the basement:
He explained further:
"The window had been painted over. There was no light bulb outside. What was inside was a bucket that the child was using as a bathroom, a mattress and box spring.”
At the trial, the young boy testified in front of his parents, the judge, and the jury that he had agreed to his punishment in the basement, instead of a spanking, for touching other siblings' genitals and stealing the family’s DVD player.
He told AJC that it was hard for him to hear his other nine brothers and sisters playing upstairs:
“I just laid down in my bed...I just wished I could be upstairs and be a part of it.”
All ten of the children were homeschooled, which is why the cruelty carried on unnoticed. Foster parents claim that when the boy was removed from the basement and placed in their care that he was thin and unkempt but otherwise healthy.
Even through the hardship of the arrests and trial, all of the children expressed to the court that they wanted to remain in contact with their parents.
Leanne Chancey, a foster parent, told AJC that the boy who slept in the basement still wanted to return to live with his parents:
“[He] absolutely wants to go back to his parents. Sometimes when you talk to him, he would be willing to go back to being locked in the basement.”
Therian told the courts that she felt sorry for her actions.
As reported by AJC, Therian said:
“This entire situation lies on my shoulders. I saw that my oldest son that stood literally at the wide gate that leads to the road of possibilities that leads ultimately to destruction. The most frightening thought for me was not his death, but walking the path that two of his uncles had walked: the prison pipeline.”
The father, Recardo, a former Georgia Tech football player who briefly signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons, spoke out about the trial in an interview with WSB-TV:
“I regret confining [my son] to the basement. I regret that we didn't get [my other son] medical treatment...My greatest hope, [is that] I will see them before they are adults.”
According to WSB-TV, the parents, who represented themselves in the trial, were hoping to serve out their sentences at home with their children.
But Judge Deborah Fluker said she wanted keep the children away from the parents to protect their well-being.
The court ruled that the parents could not have contact with the two boys until they reached 21 years old; the other eight will only have supervised visits with their parents until they reached 18 years old. The decision to limit future contact was made to prevent the children from lashing out in foster care in order to return to their parents.
The parents could be released from prison in two to three years on condition of good behavior.