Georgia parents allegedly locked 18-year-old daughter in her room for months
By Zachary Hansen, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The parents of an 18-year-old girl, who allegedly abused her and locked her in her room for months at a time, appeared in court for the first time Thursday.
Neil and Janet Farrell were in a Pickens County courtroom for a bond hearng, which ended up being delayed, Channel 2 Action News reported.
The Farrells face two counts of first-degree child abuse stemming from actions that allegedly took place before their daughter, Olivia, turned 18. They also face charges of false imprisonment and intimidation of a disabled adult.
The parents reported that Olivia was missing June 23, and Pickens County deputies went to investigate, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The Farrells said she has a “variety of behavioral disabilities,” but her specific special needs are unknown.
During the search, deputies said they noticed video recording equipment inside the daughter’s room and a lock on the outside of her door that would prevent her from leaving the room, the release said. The Farrells’ home is valued at nearly $500,000 and is in the gated Bent Tree community, Channel 2 reported.
Olivia was found 20 hours later about 15 miles away near Nelson after she walked through the night and ended up at Kayla Burgess’s doorstep tired and thirsty, Channel 2 Action News reported.
“I said I can take you home,” Burgess told Channel 2. “Do you want to go home? She said, ‘No, I don’t really have a home right now. I made a mistake, and I can’t go back.”
She said Olivia began to cry when officers said they’d take her back to the station and cell her parents.
“Now we all know why she was crying,” Burgess told the news station.
Deputies said they collected evidence that showed a common form of discipline her parents used was locking her in her bedroom for varying periods of time, ranging from days to months, the release said.
Authorities allege she would only be provided meals and limited trips to the bathroom, and on at least one occasion, she was given a bucket to relieve herself in her room, according to the release. They also allegedly beat the soles of her feet to prevent visible bruising, the release said.
Olivia is now with Adult Protective Services, which is trying to place her in a safe environment, the release said.
The Farrells remain in the Pickens County Adult Detention Center.