A couple in Wyoming have been arrested for allegedly locking a 7-year-old in an outdoor cage for three weeks as punishment.
Jena Harman, the child’s mother, and her boyfriend, Alexander Smith, allegedly kept the child outside of their Laramie, Wyoming, home, the Daily Mail reports.
The 6-by-5-foot cage was made in June from cattle paneling and wooden snow fence with plywood covering half of the opening, police said.
Police arrived at the home to find a metal chain and “dog-leash-style latch” allegedly used to lock the child in with clothing, books, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a five-gallon bucket, Laramie Boomerang reports.
The child, whose name and gender have been withheld, reported being kicked by Harman and Smith, sprayed with a hose and was kept in the cage outside for three weeks, even when it rained.
Police arrested Harman and Smith on July 24 following a tip. The couple were charged with one count of child abuse and three counts each of felonious restraint, according to court documents.
Harman called the cage a “playpen” and told deputies she kept the child in there for “constantly doing bad things,” according to an affidavit.
Smith told deputies he didn’t like the child, but kept the youngster in the cage for safety reasons. Smith said the child seemed to like the cage.
The Albany County Sheriff’s Office received reports of child abuse and requests for welfare checks in August 2013.
In an October 2013 report from the Wyoming Department of Family Services, a representative said the child reported not eating for several days and staying outside for hours, taking shelter in a vehicle to stay warm, according to Laramie Boomerang.
A preliminary hearing is set for Thursday in Circuit Court for Smith to determine if his case is bound over to District Court. Harman’s case was already sent over to District Court and her arraignment has yet to be scheduled.
Harman and Smith are being held at the Albany County Detention Center on $100,000 bond. The couple face up to 20 years in jail if convicted on all four counts.