The Ohio couple who handed their 9-year-old adopted son over to welfare officials said the boy was aggressive and threatened their family with a knife.
Cleveland Cox, 49, and Lisa Cox, 52, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of nonsupport of dependents on Wednesday.
The couple raised the 9-year-old since he was an infant. According to court documents, the boy was not told he was being given up. He was left at Butler Country Children Services last month.
The Hamilton couple turned themselves in on Nov. 15, after authorities searched for them for three weeks.
County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Thursday that charges were brought against the couple because this is an exceptional case.
“When you are the parent and you recklessly abandon a child or children, there are criminal consequences,” Gmoser said. “These children don't have a return-to-sender stamp emblazoned on their forehead.”
In August, Lisa Cox filed a police report claiming that the boy had mental health issues and threatened to kill everyone in her home with a knife.
The boy’s court-appointed attorney, Adolfo Olivas, said they boy was emotionally hurt and confused by his abandonment. Olivas says he is now receiving the care he needed that the couple did not provide him with.
“If your 9-year-old needs help, you get him help,” Olivas said.
Trial is set for Feb. 10.