On June 7, two Virginia half-siblings were sentenced to a total of 108 years in what one attorney said was the most shocking and disturbing case of child abuse he had ever encountered.
The case involved two children, who were 8 and 3 at the time and lived in two neighboring cockroach-infested mobile homes, where they "were taught to perform sexual acts more so than they were taught to brush their teeth," Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jared Moon said, according to The Roanoke Times.
Moon pushed to have the two half-siblings locked up for life, saying he had never seen a case more horrendous.
The court found 30-year-old Samantha Simmons guilty of 11 counts including sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and endangerment of a child. She was sentenced to 43 years in prison, and her half-brother, 39-year-old Robert Clark, was sentenced to 65 years after being found guilty of nine counts including rape, aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties.
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People had reported the family for child abuse on at least two occasions, but the Department of Social Services -- including a supervisor -- actively ignored them until caseworker Peggy Sigler visited the home in Rockbridge County to investigate in September 2015.
The first thing she noticed was an overpowering smell of urine and feces. She stepped on a kitten that she first thought was dead and opened a refrigerator to find cockroaches crawling all over the food inside.
"There was clothing, papers, trash, feces and cockroaches everywhere," Sigler testified. "You walked in the home and the cockroaches would literally jump on you and crawl all over your body."
The younger girl, who was almost 4 at the time, wore only a diaper, was covered in dirt and had matted hair, and she could only speak two words: "no" and the name of her older sister.
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"She was a feral child; that's the only way I could describe her," recalled Sigler.
The sisters were removed from the home, and one girl later told her foster mother that both relatives would touch her inappropriately and force her to watch pornographic movies and perform sex acts on her sister, notes WSET. The abuse would often leave her bleeding.
The younger girl later began speaking gibberish, and she would scream at various times cry during the night, notes The Roanoke Times. Even now, her vocabulary is limited, and she struggles to perform basic tasks, such as recognizing colors. She is now 5 years old but has been unable to start kindergarten because of developmental delays.
Clark reportedly has a mental disability, and attorneys said that he and Simmons were abused growing up. Clark said that he happy to be in prison with three meals a day and roof over his head but would like to "get out someday."