Child torture: Adoptive parents accused of abuse face sentencing today

Date: 2011-08-01

Altamonte parents who abused their newly adopted children sentenced today

By Rene Stutzman

SANFORD - A husband and wife who adopted a 10-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister then spanked them until they were bloody and punished them by starving them are to be sentenced today.

Pamela Hardy, 47, of Altamonte Springs, the primary abuser, faces a minimum of 11 years in prison and a maximum of 70 years. She pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse and child neglect in June.

A week earlier, a Seminole County jury convicted her husband, Dwayne Hardy, 50, of child neglect. He faces a minimum of two years in prison. He told jurors that after he discovered bleeding wounds on the boy's bottom, he never spanked the boy's bottom and told his wife to stop.

According to the children, she didn't stop, but switched, at times, to hitting the palms of their hands with a wooden and metal kitchen spoon.

Prosecutors showed jurors photos of the children's hands and bottoms. The boy's hands had gashes that were healing. The bottoms of both children have permanent scars.

More than 50 supporters of the Hardys gathered in court this morning.

Some testified on their behalf, asking for mercy.

John C. Burnett, a cousin of Dwayne Hardy, testified that both Hardys were excellent parents.

Each, he said, was a "strict disciplinarian", but they had strong Christian values and raised their children according to them.

When shown photos of the children's injuries, though, he said they showed excessive discipline.

Pamela Hardy's brother-in-law, Arnett W. Moore of Tallahassee, testified that he never saw she or her husband starve the adoptive children.

"I never heard Dwayne raise his voice, let alone be neglectful," he said.

They raised four biological children, now grown, had adopted another boy and had cared for four or five foster children, Moore said.

"Pam has always been about the health, safety and welfare of children that have come through their household," he said.

She was a loving and caring mother, he said, who had planned to spend the rest of her life raising children.

Dwayne Hardy has been in the Seminole County jail since his conviction June 15. Pamela Hardy has been free on bail.

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