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Colorado couple in court in Russian adoption abuse case


(Reuters) -

By Keith Coffman

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Court proceedings for a Colorado couple accused of abusing three girls adopted from Russia were postponed on Tuesday after a defense lawyer told a judge that plea negotiations were under way.

Edelwina Leschinsky, 44, and her husband Steven Leschinsky, 43, were arrested in March after an investigation by child welfare authorities in which the girls -- aged 12, 13 and 14 -- described being physically abused by their adoptive parents.

"We do anticipate a disposition (final settlement) in this matter," Edelwina Leschinsky's lawyer Alex Garlin told Larimer County District Court Judge Terence Gilmore during a brief hearing.

The couple are charged with child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The girls have been removed from the home.

The case has drawn media attention in Russia after a woman in Tennessee put a 7-year-old boy she had adopted from Russia on a plane back there, saying he had violent tendencies and psychological problems.

According to a police affidavit, the girls, who were being interviewed after the 12-year-old came to school with a black eye, said the Leschinskys forced them to perform hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups a day and to hold themselves over a board with nails protruding from it.

The girls also told authorities their adoptive parents spanked them with belts and pieces of wood and made them slap each other in the face for punishment.

Prosecutors declined to discuss the case with reporters at Tuesday's hearing.

"These are good, hard-working people who, with the purest of intentions, adopted three Russian sisters," Garlin said in a statement.

"Some extremely difficult adjustments for the children caused great stress within the family, (and) parental discipline occurred, but we disagree with various things written in the police affidavit."

The next hearing in the case has been set for October 7.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Steve Gorman and John O'Callaghan)

2010 Sep 9