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Lawyer is suspended after child endangerment plea; judge saw no malice in adoptees' treatment


By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Pennsylvania deputy attorney general has been suspended from law practice after his no contest plea to child endangerment.

Douglas Barbour, 35, was suspended on Friday, report the Sharon Harold, the Associated Press and TribeLive.com. Prosecutors had accused Barbour and his wife of mistreating two siblings they adopted from Ethiopia in 2012. The children were 6 years old and 18 months old when the Barbours were charged.

When Barbour entered the no-contest plea last June, Judge Jeffrey Manning of Pittsburgh said he saw no evidence of malice, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported at the time. “This started out as a significant act of charity gone awry,” Manning said. The couple retained custody of their two biological children.

The couple was charged after hospital officials reported that the girl had multiple fractures and the boy had lesions that could have been caused by contact with urine. Barbour’s wife, Kristen Barbour, told hospital officials that the girl has a history of banging her head. Prosecutors also said the boy was underweight.

Douglas Barbour sentenced was to five years of probation while Kristen Barbour was sentenced six months to a year in alternative housing followed by four years of probation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in September.

The couple who eventually adopted the Ethiopian children, Alison and Kevin Patterson, testified at the sentencing hearing. Alison Patterson said the boy would repeatedly ask which bathroom he was allowed to use, telling her his “body was unsafe for other people.”

Prosecutors alleged that the Barbours sought help but ignored advice, including advice that the boy be allowed unfettered access to food. The couple wrote to the boy’s teacher advising against feeding the boy, even though he would report he was hungry, according to the Post-Gazette.

The girl was treated for brain injury at the Children’s Institute and will likely have a learning disability from damage to her brain, Kevin Patterson said.

2015 Feb 3