An Ohio woman convicted of keeping her 6-year-old son in a dirty basement alone for five months has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Angel Abram, a 35-year-old mother from Newark, Ohio, broke down crying in court on July 11 after her three-year sentence was announced, Daily Mail reports. According to authorities, Abram and her boyfriend, Joshua Bergeron, 39, kept the young boy in a 6- by 8-foot room in their unfinished basement whenever he wasn't at school.
The boy was also reportedly regularly beaten with a belt, and made to use a toddler potty as well as sleeping on a deflated air mattress. The boy then had to carry the bowl filled with urine and feces upstairs to dump it into the toilet and clean the bowl himself, according to WKRN. Prosecutors said the beatings were "essentially an everyday thing."
The other three children in the house were allowed to sleep in bedrooms while the 6-year-old was treated as "the forgotten child, the disposable child," according to Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Paula Sawyers.
Bergeron was not the boy's biological father, and claimed that the couple was "disciplining" the boy, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Bergeron was sentenced in March to four years in prison on a charge of child endangerment as well as a weapons count. He was previously convicted for raping a child in Washington, and had a warrant out for his arrest after he did not register as a sex offender.
Abram's attorney argued that while the mother did fail to protect her son, she has battered woman syndrome, a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder that affects people who are victims of domestic abuse by intimate partners. Women with BWS experience high levels of anxiety and can find it difficult to take action against their abusers, according to Psychiatric Times.
The judge in the case rejected the argument, questioning how the abuse could persist and Abram could not leave the house or at least get the child out of the basement.
"At what point do you stand up and protect your child?" asked Judge David Branstool. "You had many opportunities to do that and you didn't."
All four children who were living in the home were taken into care by child services.