Huron County couple charged with abuse after son found in caged bed
By: Rebecca Trylch
HURON COUNTY (WJRT) - (03/17/15) - A Huron County couple will spend nearly a year in jail after a judge hands down a sentence in an abuse case involving a caged bed.
The judge sentenced Timothy and Karen "Sue" Tolin to 330 days in jail, with credit for two days served.
They also face 24 months on probation, and have to pay a fine.
The judge also told the 66 year olds that they cannot have contact with their 19-year-old adopted son, who is at the center of this abuse case.
The Tolins were charged last October after their son was found in what prosecutors call a "caged bed". The Tolins' attorneys say it was their son's crib.
"Anybody who would look at this device would see that it is one where bars, it's got a wood floor to it, not mattress, it's a cage," said Timothy Rutkowski, the Huron County prosecutor.
The prosecution claims the son was kept in the caged bed for between 18 and 23.5 hours a day.
The defense said that only happened on rare occasions, adding he regularly attended school.
The son in question has Angelmans syndrome, a form of autism. He has the brain function of an 18-month-old.
Investigators were first made aware of the situation when a deputy with the Huron County Sheriff's Office was called to the Tolin's Paris Township home for a civil complaint call on Oct. 20.
That call eventually lead to another deputy and a Department of Human Services worker coming to the house around 10 p.m.
In court, the prosecution team talked about a video recording made at that time.
The judge decided to view in behind closed doors, and not in open court.
The prosecution team said it showed the 19 year old in a room with human waste on the floor, adding that the DHS worker had to cover her nose with her shirt because the smell was so bad.
The teen in question was removed from the home that night, and has never returned.
Over the years, the Tolins had five biological children, and adopted 13 others.
The children that remained were also removed from the home that same night.
The 19 year old is now in an adult foster care home, where the prosecution team says he is improving every day.
Before the judge actually handed down the sentence, both sides spent more than two hours arguing about sentencing guidelines. Those guidelines are used by the Michigan Department of Corrections to determine an appropriate sentence.
Before the judge sentenced the 66 year olds, he said they "failed to recognize their limitations" when it came to caring for him.
One of the attorneys for the Tolins said they, "did the best they could". The other said their, "hearts were in the right place".
In court, Timothy Tolin admitted they didn't know when to ask for help.
"We knew all along (our son) would leave us because we could no longer take care of him. But we would hope that it would have been our decision to do so," he said.
In a statement ready by Karen "Sue" Tolin's attorney, she expressed her love for her son and wished him, "the best for the rest of his life".
Karen "Sue" Tolin is battling cancer right now. Arrangements will be made to get her to her chemotherapy treatments while in jail.