A Texas woman has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for abusing seven special needs children by locking them up in horrific conditions.
Paula Sinclair, 55, had pleaded guilty to multiple counts of causing serious injuries to a child.
The children found at her Houston-area home ranged in age from 14 to 16 and had been adopted by Sinclair as babies. They were fed only rice and beans twice a day, authorities said. They were found locked in a filthy second story room littered with human feces and were treated for dehydration, malnutrition and bed bug bites.
One of the teens had Down syndrome and was wearing a sopping diaper, investigators said. None of them had access to a bathroom, authorities said, and they never attended school.
Sinclair and her boyfriend, Allen Richardson, were arrested in 2016. He is being held at the Fort Bend County Jail on charges that include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Several of the teens testified at Sinclair’s sentencing hearing Friday.
“I never thought I would have a normal life again,” said one. “I can forgive you, but not forget the pain.”
Prosecutors said Sinclair treated the children like animals.
“That a parent could so grossly abuse a child, depriving them of food and nutrition to the point of causing serious bodily injury and mental impairment is outrageous,” said Jenna Rudolph of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.
Sinclair will not be eligible for parole until she is 71 years old.