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Mother made dog crate 'fun' for son with stuffed animals

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta

Publication: The Day

Published March 09. 2011 4:00AM   Updated March 10. 2011 3:14PM
Photo courtesy of Old Saybrook police
Police photo of the dog crate found in Anthony's home. A girl who lived there said she let the boy in and out of the crate at night.
Arrest warrant details how case of adopted boy put in 'sleep locker' came to light

Tired of having to let her brother out of his "sleep locker," a middle school student told school officials that her brother was sleeping in a dog crate, according to an arrest warrant filed against Kathlyn Anthony, who was charged Sunday in Old Saybrook with risk of injury to her adopted son.

On Dec. 15, 2010, James Kiako, school resource officer at the Kathleen E. Goodwin Elementary School, was notified of the allegation by a psychologist at the Old Saybrook Middle School.

The middle school girl, who was born in 2000, told the psychologist she was tired because she had been up several times during the night to let her brother out of the crate, the warrant said.

Kiako said he contacted the children's mother, Kathlyn Anthony, but did not hear from her until the next day, the warrant said.

Anthony denied that there was any "sleep locker" but said the boy, who was born in 2004 and a student at the Goodwin school, was exhibiting defiant behavior and was urinating and defecating in his bedroom. She said she placed a tarp on the bedroom floor to prevent the biological fluids from further ruining the carpet.

Kiako said he entered the boy's room and saw a brown tarp on the floor. There was no crate in the room, but neither was there a bed, the warrant said.

The warrant said that Anthony removed the mattress because it was no longer usable, and that she reverted to using a sleeping bag because it was easier to clean.

Anthony told Kiako that she believed the boy was doing it on purpose. She said she adopted the boy when he was 3, and that he was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder.

Kiako then contacted Amanda Grimm, an investigator at the Department of Children & Families, about his findings. Grimm said she would pay an unannounced visit to the house.

On Dec. 22, Grimm contacted Kiako and said she spoke with the boy's sister. She confirmed that the boy was sleeping in a dog crate in his bedroom. The dog crate was removed from the bedroom and placed in the basement at about the time the investigation began, the warrant said.

Grimm said the boy was removed from the home on Dec. 21 and would be kept from the home until further review from the court.

Kiako and Grimm went to Anthony's residence to inform her of DCF's action. She became upset, saying she was doing her best to help the boy with his condition and that she made the dog crate "fun" by putting stuffed animals inside of it. She never explained why she didn't tell police about the crate in the first place, the warrant said.

The crate was 36 inches by 22 inches, and 30 inches high.

Kiako re-interviewed Anthony at her residence on Jan. 11. She provided a written statement, saying that she provided the boy with a foster home when he was 2 years old and adopted him when he was 3.

She said the boy's behavior grew increasingly worse, and that she sought help through Old Saybrook Youth and Family Services.

Anthony said the service providers there "seemed to not know what to do either," the warrant said.

She said she tried various things to help the boy from soiling his bedroom and got the idea of using the dog crate because it brought fond memories for the children. She said she raised litters of kittens in the crate.

She said she used the crate for one to two weeks and denied locking it.

She also showed police the various enrichment programs and home therapy methods she employed to help the boy.

Kiako saw Grimm's DCF report. The girl told Grimm that when the boy is bad or pees in his room, he has to take a cold shower.

The girl also said in the report that the boy could not get out of the crate because it was locked.

"Juvenile #2 (the girl) reported that Juvenile #2 would lock Juvenile #1 (the boy) in as mother got tired of doing it," the warrant said. "... mother usually let Juvenile 1 out in the morning."

Grimm's interview with the boy revealed that he was not always able to eat his dinner and that he was not allowed to drink anything after a certain time so that he wouldn't go the bathroom, the warrant said.

He said his meals were much smaller than those Anthony and his sister ate.

"Juvenile #1 indicated eating a portion of dinner, the size of Juvenile #1's hand or smaller," the warrant said.

After being removed from Anthony's home, the boy appeared to be excited the next day. He was happy because he had a packed lunch that included juice boxes, which he normally does not get, the warrant said.

The boy's school principal said that the boy was having a "great week" and not hoarding any food.

The DCF report also noted that during the two weeks since the boy was removed from the home, he only had a couple of bed-wetting incidents, the warrant said.

Anthony was charged Sunday with risk of injury to a minor. She was arraigned in court Monday and is scheduled to appear in Middletown Superior Court on April 8.

She could not be reached for comment.

Gary Kleeblatt, DCF spokesman, said he could not comment on Anthony's case.

He said in general, "Clearly, if we receive a report of anything like this we respond swiftly. This is not acceptable behavior on the part of a parent or caretaker."

Kleeblatt urged parents to seek help if they have problems caring for a child.

"They can call their pediatrician, school counselor, call 211, a guidance professional in the community," Kleeblatt said. "There are many resources to assist a parent with the appropriate care for their child."

i.larraneta@theday.com

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