Society

Parents Who Kept Autistic Son Locked In Cage Sentenced To Prison

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The O’Fallon, Missouri, parents who kept their autistic son in a cage have been sentenced to seven years in prison.

The sentencing came after Terry and Victoria Smith were convicted last month of child endangerment, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In addition to time in prison, the couple will have to pay a $500 fine each.

“The court finds no compelling reason to deviate [from the jury’s recommendation of seven years and fines]," Circuit Judge Ted House said.

The Smiths were arrested in 2010 after authorities found their then 6-year-old autistic son, Josiah Smith, in a cage-like enclosure held together by zip ties and bungee cords with a plywood top inside their home.

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An anonymous call tipped police off to the Smiths' home and their son’s treatment. When police, paramedics and a case worker arrived at the home, the boy’s parents were out shopping and he was being watched by his grandmother, along with his five siblings between the ages of 11 months and 8 years old at the time.

The grandmother led authorities to the basement, where the boy was found. According to investigators, the boy was naked and sitting in urine and feces. It took several minutes to break the cage open.

The boy’s siblings said they did not see him often and would feed him through the bars of the cage, reports The Daily Mail.

Victoria’s public defender, Courtney Harness, sought probation in the case because she said the couple’s “large family needs two parents,” but it was denied by House.

Assistant Prosecutor Becky Shaffar said the couple are “not responsible adults under any circumstances.”

Shaffar noted that the Smiths had not apologized for their actions against the boy.

Assistant Prosecutor Steven Kobal said the Missouri Department of Social Services will decide what will happen to the children.

Sources: The Daily Mail, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Photo Credit: The Daily Mail