Woman Gets 20 Years For Keeping Boy in Cage

May 23, 2008

Brenda Sullivan pleaded guilty in January to three counts of aggravated child abuse, and prosecutors agreed to drop lesser child neglect charges. She was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for keeping her 17-year-old adopted son caged in her home.

When child welfare workers found him in 2005, the teen weighed 49 pounds and was in what appeared to be a cage. Sullivan told a judge at the time that Ohio authorities told her to keep the boy in a crib, because he had severe mental and physical issues.

“There’s only one conclusion when you look at the medical evidence in this case, and that is that she literally starved him,” prosecutor Julie Schlax said.

The two other children in the house, 13-year-old twins the Sullivans adopted as infants, both testified they were kept in similar cages.

Sullivan’s husband was also arrested, but died in January 2007 before he could go to trial.
Sullivan’s lawyer, Charles Fletcher, said he didn’t think prison was the appropriate sentence because she does not pose a threat to society, and thus would appeal the sentence.

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