Parents get no jail time for child abuse

Date: 2006-01-09

Parents get no jail time for child abuse

MICHAEL RIGERT - Daily Herald

Reed and Teresa Hansen will not spend one day in jail after they admitted to abusing their three adopted children from Russia.

Cool and composed, the couple listened attentively Monday as 4th District Judge Gary D. Stott sentenced them to two years probation -- suspending a one-year jail sentence for Teresa Hansen and a 180-day jail sentence for Reed Hansen.

Stott told the Hansens their violation of trust and protection of their adopted children will remain with the three children forever.

"When that trust is violated, it leaves scars on the little ones," he said. "Regardless of what this court does, I can never undo whatever the Hansens have done, whatever that may be."

Slated to go to trial Monday, the 4-year-old case was resolved Thursday when the Hansens agreed to the terms of a plea deal with prosecutors. In the agreement, Teresa Hansen, 41, pleaded guilty to two Class A misdemeanors of reckless endangerment while Reed Hansen, 38, pleaded no contest to two Class B misdemeanors of attempted reckless endangerment. In exchange prosecutors dropped two third-degree felony child abuse/neglect counts against each parent.

Deputy county prosecutor Sherry Ragan said a major component of the plea deal was that the Hansens agreed to pay $17,500 into a trust fund to be used for college or similar expenses for each of the oldest two children. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek jail time for either parent.

"It was a tradeoff to get back the money," Ragan said.

Though jail time was not recommended, Stott could have sentenced Teresa Hansen to up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines and Reed Hansen to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Le Ann Emery, the permanent adoptive mother of two of the children, told Stott she was outraged at the Hansens for what they had done to her children. She said her daughter had an enlarged liver, would eat out of trash cans and had spent months in therapy after being diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

"How dare they do what they did," she said. "I personally feel they should spend years in jail, but I'll leave it in the hands of God. May God have mercy upon their souls, or not."

Shauna Johnson, the permanent adoptive mother of the third child, said she cared for him as a foster parent before he went to the Hansens and suffered at their hands.

"He was so weak he couldn't even climb on a chair or stool, he would hunch down and cry for no reason," she said. "He will have an extremely hard life."

Johnson said she did not want the Hansens to go to prison, simply for the negative impact it would have on their own biological children. The Hansens have retained custody of their biological children.

Teresa Hansen told the judge the children didn't eat out of trash cans while they were in the Hansen home, but did in Russia.

"I always loved those children and would not have gone through what I went through if I didn't," she said.

Yet Ragan said the couple's three adopted children were treated much different than their biological children.

"That was one of the issues," she said.

Stott said the Hansens' probations, including the extended probation for a plea in abeyance in a previous abuse case against Teresa Hansen, may be terminated when the balance of the trust funds is received.

After the sentencing Le Ann and Kerry Emery said they disagreed with the judge's sentencing.

"They got a slap on the wrist," Kerry Emery said.

However, the Emerys said what was most important to them was the children's futures. "They're with us and safe, happy and healthy," Le Ann Emery said.

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