Couple Found Guilty Of Abusing Their Three Daughters, Holding Them Captive

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Fernando and Sophia RichterFernando and Sophia Richter

An Arizona couple accused of imprisoning and abusing their three daughters has been found guilty.

Fernando and Sophia Richter were found guilty on three counts each of kidnapping and child abuse, New York Daily News reported. Fernando was also found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Aggravating circumstances were added to all charges by the jury, which may increase their sentences. The couple will be sentenced in February 2016.

During the trial, the couple’s daughters testified to having been physically abused, taken out of school, and held captive for several months before the two younger girls escaped through a window in November 2013, reported New York Daily News. The oldest daughter, who was held in a different room, was rescued by police.

The abuse they suffered included being forced to wake up at 2 a.m. every day to march in place, the eating of rancid food, and being forced to overeat or face punishment, reported New York Daily News

“It was nasty,” the oldest sister testified, according to New York Daily News. “Gagging nasty. We would have to lick our plates if we wanted them clean and if not, my mom would just throw more food on it if I didn’t lick it.”

The youngest daughter said Fernando made her recite the dictionary and beat her if she mispronounced words.

The oldest daughter was forced to remain in bed, listen to loud radio at all hours, and had not seen her sisters in months before she was rescued.

All of the girls were forced to urinate and defecate in their bedroom closets because their parents did not allow them bathroom breaks.

The girls were 12, 13, and 17 at the time.

The couple pleaded not guilty to all charges. Their defense said prosecutors did not have enough evidence and that the girls were free to move about the house.

According to New York Daily News, Sophia testified that the girls were fed properly and not held captive. She denied all of the accusations against her in the case.

“They had fruit daily, they had snacks daily,” Sophia testified. "They were never without. I always had fruit for them."

For up to two years, the couple held their daughters captive inside of their Pinal and Pima County homes in deplorable conditions, Tucson News Now reported.

The couple was convicted in Pima County but may face charges in Pinal County too. Tiffany Davila, a spokesperson for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, said that regardless of what happens in Pima County, officials in Pinal County will pursue charges.

In Pinal County, Fernando faces 15 charges: One count each of child molestation, sexual abuse, and aggravated assault, nine counts of child abuse, and three counts of kidnapping, according to Tucson News Now. Sophia faces six counts of child abuse and three counts of kidnapping.

If convicted in both counties, the couple will serve their time in Pima County first.

Sources: New York Daily News, Tucson News Now / Photo credit: New York Daily News