PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala on Tuesday explained the prosecutor’s office concern about child visitation in the case of a couple accused of child abuse.
The case is complicated by the defendants desire to see their own biological children and the prosecutor’s desire to block their access to their adoptive children.
Suspended Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Douglas Barbour and his wife, Kristen, are accused of abusing two children from Ethiopia they adopted in March.
According to investigators, a 6-year-old boy is said to have been starved and a 19-month-old girl suffered head trauma. The couple is facing charges of child endangerment, aggravated assault and simple assault.
Pending trial, the couple wanted visitation rights and were granted part of what they wanted.
They can have visits with their biological children, aged four and two, who were not identified as abused, but not the adopted children. The visits with the biological kids have this restriction: the 4-year-old biological child’s visits will be monitored since she could be a witness in the abuse case.
“These are very young kids,” Zappala said. “So the ability to influence them is rather substantial and we want try to avoid that if we can.”
The defense says the couple is not a threat to any children and they deny the charges.
The Barbour’s civil attorney says the kids miss their parents. Still, given the nature of the allegations, prosecutors say they’re taking an abundance of caution.
“Because of the age of the children and because of the injuries that certainly the adopted children were demonstrating, this was a deadly situation potentially; so we’re pleased that the court understood that and we got our day in court,” said Zappala.
The couple’s bond remains at $25,000.
Deputy Attorney General, Wife Charged With Abusing Adopted Children (10/4/12)
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