PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A couple accused of putting their son in the trunk of their car to cure his fear of darkness appeared in a Westmoreland County courtroom today.
Jeff Lenhart, 26, and his wife, 25-year-old Danielle Lenhart, were tight lipped after leaving District Justice Denise Snyder Thiel’s office in Ligonier.
The Lenharts waived abuse and neglect charges stemming from three alleged incidents where the couple reportedly tried to teach their 3-year-old son a lesson on how to overcome fear of the dark.
“I don’t know exactly why she was doing it, but unfortunately, it was done,” said Anthony Bompiani, Danielle’s attorney. “Again, it just wasn’t a great decision.”
Westmoreland County detectives say on three occasions this summer the couple allegedly drove to Idlewild Park from their Latrobe home.
Investigators say that during the drive they would allegedly fold down the car’s backseat and tell the boy to go look for candy in the trunk. They gave him a flashlight.
Once inside, authorities say the couple would allegedly then put the seat back up until they got to the amusement park.
“How could you do this to a child? We’re all afraid of the dark,” said an associate of the family who didn’t want to be identified. “The family’s always had problems with how they’re treating their kids. You don’t lock someone in a trunk; maybe you take away the nightlight after a few years.”
“We reached a plea agreement with the Commonwealth,” said Bompiani. “It wasn’t the best decision by my client, but we worked it out today.”
Jeffery Lenhart’s attorney declined comment on his client’s status.
The attorney for the mother says the child is fine and the couple still has full custody of their children.