DA: Children in California home were strangled, waterboarded
FAIRFIELD, Calif. — Prosecutors allege in court documents filed Wednesday that the 10 children rescued from a Northern California home were punched, kicked, strangled, shot with a BB gun and subjected to waterboarding by their father and their mother did nothing to stop it.
The details of the alleged abuse were included in a motion to increase the bail of Ina Rogers, 31, who was charged with nine counts of felony child abuse Wednesday in Solano Superior Court. Rogers did not enter a plea, but has previously denied allegations her children were harmed. She also faces 1 count of child neglect involving all 10 children.
"On a continuous basis the children were getting punched, strangled, bitten, shot with weapons such as crossbows and bb guns, hit with weapons such as sticks and bats, subjected to 'waterboarding' and having scalding water poured on them," Solano County Deputy District Attorney Veronica Juarez wrote in the bail request.
Since announcing Monday that they had removed the children from the home where they say torture was carried out "for sadistic purposes," prosecutors have refused to discuss further details of the allegations against Rogers and her husband Jonathan Allen, 29. He has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of felony child abuse and seven counts of felony torture. He is being held on $5.2 million bail.
Records show the 10 children removed from the house March 31 are 6 months to 12 years old, but the documents do not specify which child suffered which injuries.
The motion states that when Fairfield Police arrived at the two-story house in a suburb 46 miles (74 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco on March 31, they found the children "huddled together on the living room floor" in a home littered with feces and trash.
"The children appeared to be skittish and spoke with speech impediments," she wrote.
Juarez alleges Rogers assisted in the abuse and "dissuaded the children" from reporting their injuries, which included broken arms.
On Wednesday, Judge William J. Pendergast set bail at $495,000 for Rogers, saying she "may not be a danger to the public at large, but these charges make clear she is a danger to the children."
It's unclear whether any California government agencies had an opportunity to intervene sooner or knew of turmoil in the household.
Solano County court records show that Allen was charged with four felonies in 2011, including corporal injury, assault with a firearm and criminal threats in a case involving his wife, identified by her initials, I.R.
Prosecutors alleged Allen used a .22 caliber revolver in some of the crimes.
He pleaded no contest to corporal injury as part of a deal with prosecutors. He was sentenced to 180 days and three years of probation. Prosecutors dropped the other charges.
Rogers told reporters that she had one prior interaction with child welfare officials when her mother "had mentioned something" that prompted a home visit. Officials took pictures of the children and interviewed them individually, she said.
"Nothing was founded, my kids were placed back with me," she said.
Solano County's Child Welfare Services department officials did not immediately provide information on details about the visit or other interactions they may have had with members of the household.
Rogers says she home-schooled the children, but the Fairfield, California, home was not registered as a private school and neither were three prior addresses where the family lived in Fairfield and Vallejo, according to the California Department of Education.
California law requires children to be enrolled in public school unless they meet specific exemptions, such as documented attendance at a private school. Parents who teach their own children are required to register with the state, but the state does not approve, monitor or inspect them.
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District had no record that the students attended any school in the district, said Tim Goree, a district spokesman.
Police responding to a missing juvenile report found a home filled with rotted food and human and animal waste, Fairfield Lt. Greg Hurlbut said. Police removed the children and arrested Rogers on suspicion of neglect. She was released after posting $10,000 bail.
Stories about alleged abuse dating back years came out gradually in interviews with the children over the past six weeks, authorities said.
Rogers was taken into custody after the hearing. Her court-appointed attorney, Barry Newman, declined comment.
Har reported from San Francisco.
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