Lawyer of parents accused of abusing adopted daughter wants case closed to media
BY DEB GRUVER
The lawyer for parents accused of abusing their 14-year-old adopted daughter and keeping her in a windowless basement room asked Friday that Sedgwick County District Court Judge Patrick Walters close the case to the media.
Michael Cleary noted The Eagle had been reporting the case as part of its “ In Need of Care” series and said he would not try the case in public.
The Eagle reported about the case in May and earlier this month after Sedgwick County District Judge Tim Henderson gave the newspaper access to child-in-need-of-care petitions and hearings for two reasons: to be transparent about how the system works and to show the public the extent of child neglect and abuse. Reports of child abuse and neglect have risen by 25 percent in Sedgwick County in five years, to 12,366 in the fiscal year that ended in June 2013.
Walters told Cleary that he did not make the ruling to open the case to the media and advised “that anyone having a concern speak with the current presiding judge,” Judge Robb Rumsey.
Cleary told The Eagle last month after a hearing at the juvenile courthouse that the parents “probably want to” talk to the media but he had advised against it.
Police put the girl and three adopted siblings into protective custody March 28, and prosecutors filed a child-in-need-of-care petition on behalf of the children April 1.
Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the parents June 9.
The father faces three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child, one count of criminal restraint and one count of criminal damage to property. The mother faces the same charges with the exception of criminal damage to property. The father is accused of kicking the window out of the frame on one of the back-seat doors of a sheriff’s car while investigators were executing a search warrant at his home in April.
During the brief hearing Friday morning, Walters also ruled that a protective order remain in place and that he would not modify visitation.
In a May 16 court hearing, Cleary told a judge they would like to see their other adopted children.
A Saint Francis Community Services social worker said law enforcement and the doctor who diagnosed the girl as a victim of torture recommended the parents have no contact with any of the children.
Walters said it appeared unlikely that the case would be ready for trial — in children-in-need-of-care cases, that means adjudication and disposition hearings — by the originally scheduled dates of Aug. 4 and Aug. 5.
He scheduled a hearing July 18 and kept the trial dates for now, though they likely will be moved back.