Parents Accused Of Torturing 3 Adopted Russian Sisters

Date: 2010-08-26

Affidavit: Girls Forced To Do Endless Push-Ups, Run 43 Miles, Hit Each Other

Alan Gathright

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. -- A Larimer County couple is charged with abusing three adopted Russian sisters, forcing them to do hundreds of push-ups, run 43 miles in three days, and do headstands for over an hour, according to court documents.

Since Jan. 1, 2006, the parents' punishment for bad behavior included making one girl do push-ups with a nail-embedded board under her thighs and forcing the sisters to hit each other in the face and smack their heads together, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by

Edelwina Leschinsky, 44, and Steven Leschinsky, 44, are charged with felony child abuse causing serious bodily injury, two misdemeanor abuse charges involving injury and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to court records.

The girls -- now ages 12, 13 and 14 -- were removed from the home into the care of a guardian, court records said.

Allegations of abuse surfaced Jan. 21 when one of the girls came to school with a black eye and a child protective worker alerted the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, the affidavit said. The girl, then age 12, told a deputy that her mother threw a snow boot at her for discipline during the Christmas holiday.

The deputy interviewed Edelwina Leschinsky, who admitted angrily hurling the boot at her daughter, the affidavit said.

The mother was originally arrested Jan. 21, the affidavit said. The charges were initially dropped, but both parents were arrested and charged in March.

During interviews, the sisters recounted how their mother routinely forced them to endure excruciating exercise ordeal, the affidavit said.

The girls said their father often watched the mother discipline them, yet he sometimes participated by keeping time or supervising the completion of their punishment, the affidavit said.

A physician who examined the sisters told investigators one girl was physically scarred and had a "significant deformity" to her left hand, the affidavit said. The doctor said the girl had suffered serious bodily injury.

The girls said their mother spanked them with a belt and a piece of wood, leaving them bruised, the affidavit said.

The couple's attorney, Alexander Garlin, issued a statement to Thursday.

"Mr. and Mrs. Leschinsky are good hard working people who, with the purest of intentions, adopted three Russian sisters," he wrote. "Some extremely difficult adjustments for the children caused great stress within the family.

"Parental discipline occurred, but we disagree with various things written in the police affidavit," the attorney wrote. "Mr. and Mrs. Leschinsky have fully cooperated with the authorities, and done everything that the courts have asked and more. They have the full support of their many friends and their church. At the present time, all parties are working together towards an agreeable resolution."

The girl struck by the snow boot, however, told investigators about having to run 45 miles over three days for chewing her food too much, the affidavit said.

Her mother, in an effort to keep the girl's legs off the ground during push-ups, placed a board embedded with nails up under her thighs, the affidavit said.

The girl was unable to maintain her position and her legs were "punctured by the nails, causing them to bleed," the affidavit said.

"Her father, Steven Leschinsky, was present … observed that she was injured and told her that she just needed to get her push-ups done," that affidavit said. A doctor who examined the girl told investigators she has puncture-wound scars on her legs.

The girls said one of the most painful punishments was called "fisties," holding their bodies in a push-up position with their hands in fists, knuckles down on hard hardwood floors, the affidavit said.

The 14-year-old daughter said she did fisties for as long as 40 minutes, causing pain and swelling in her hands, the affidavit said

The doctor said the 13-year-old daughter has "significant deformity" to her left hand as a result of the excessive, prolonged "push-up/fisties," the affidavit said.

The eldest sister said she was punished by her mother for failing to carry out an assignment involving asking her teachers about lying, the affidavit said. She was required to do 100 push-ups daily, while adding 100 more push-ups each day she failed to ask the teachers about lying, the affidavit said.

The girl's punishment tallied 3,600 push-ups just before she was removed from the home, the affidavit said. But her mother agreed to drop it to 3,000.

Like her sisters. the 14-year-old said she was forced to do headstands on carpet, concrete and rocks outdoors for more than an hour, the affidavit said.

The girls said the long headstands left them with red, swollen eyes and aching necks, the affidavit said.

The girls said their mother would also make them run for hours in cold, winter weather and shower outdoors on cold, rainy days, the affidavit said.

The sisters have been living with a guardian, but the mother petitioned to modify an order barring her from contact with the girls, a court record said.

Prosecutors filed papers last month opposing any change to the no-contact order "due to the egregious nature of the charges and continuous disclosures by the protected children," court records said.

The children's guardian "strongly opposes any request for modification" of the no-contact order, a prosecutor wrote the judge.

The 14-year-old sister told investigators her parents had threatened to send her "back to Russia on her 15th birthday, if she and her sisters don't improve their behavior," the affidavit said.

"This caused great distress to (the girl), as she is uncertain that she would be able to provide food and adequate shelter for her and her sisters in Russia," the affidavit said.


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