The adoptive parents of an 8-year-old special-needs child were arrested by authorities in Nebraska last week on multiple counts of child abuse.
According to a statement from prosecutors, Stephen Bauer, 37, and his wife, 32-year-old Megan Finlan, withheld food from the boy, who police said was underweight for his age.
Bauer and Finlan are also accused of locking the child in his room for days, where the boy was forced to defecate and urinate on the floor. The boy also had severe bruises and his teeth were in an advanced state of decay.
The husband and wife were both charged with two counts of child abuse after officials at the boy’s school called police. It is not known whether they have entered pleas to the charges against them.
School staffers told police the child would allegedly eat food out of the trash and lick other students’ plates clean.
After the charges were filed, Bauer was suspended from his job as program director for the Nebraska Family Support Network, which helps children and families affected by mental and behavioral health problems, according to police.
Bauer’s attorney, Nedu Igbokwe, told The Omaha World-Herald that the boy suffers from various mental health issues, including illnesses that caused him to eat his own stool and vomit.
“The young man I know, what I read [in court documents] doesn’t describe him,” Igbokwe said of Bauer. “We have to keep an open mind and know that he is innocent until proven guilty.”
The boy and three of his siblings have since been placed in foster care.