Iowa couple who starved and abused their black adopted children get two years probation, no jail time after guilty plea
Editors notes: Clarke County District Judge Dustria Relph addressed public outrage that the Fry’s had escaped jail time. Relph acknowledged the couple’s poor parenting skills and less-than-perfect handling of the kids’ alleged behavior issues, but said they sought help and had received bad advice in return.
An Iowa couple charged with abusing and neglecting their two adopted children will serve just two months of probation for their crime, a judge ruled late last month.
Couple Kenny Fry, 42, and wife Kelly Fry, 40, pleaded guilty to two counts each of child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor, the Des Moines Register reported. They previously pleaded not guilty to felony charges in the case.
The couple originally faced charges of child endangerment causing bodily injury, and neglect [or] abandonment of a dependent person after doctors determined their two adoptive kids — a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy from Ghana — were severely malnourished — The pair had adopted the siblings years earlier, only to subject them to starvation, emotional abuse and unsanitary living conditions inside their Osceola home.
Still, they won’t face any jail time.
The children, who were removed from the residence last year, told police they were remanded to their bedrooms for several hours a day and forced to use a plastic bucket as a toilet. If they dared to leave their rooms, the kids said an alarm would sound and they’d be disciplined with physical exercise, including squats and push ups.
In addition to being served oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the brother and sister shared a bedroom furnished with nothing but a small plastic mat, a throw blanket and a single shelf on the wall, according to investigators.
It was a concerned neighbor who reported the abuse to officials after seeing the children knocking on the door of the home for 45 minutes, begging to be let it in after the couple locked them out.
“They were knocking on the door. It sounded like they were crying, ‘Let me in,’” the neighbor told station KCRG. “I cannot say exactly what they were saying, but I could hear crying out. I just thought, ‘Something is not right.’ Just knowing it was so cold outside and those poor kids were locked out.”
Doctors later found that the girl child had a “distention of her abdomen” consistent with malnutrition while the boy was much too small for his age.
Meanwhile, the Frys’ five biological children weren’t subjected to such inhumane treatment and were cared for properly. The couple claimed the abuse was a form of punishment for the adopted children’s bad behavior.
In addition to their probation, the Frys must serve 100 hours of community service and are ordered to pay a penalty of $12,500, according to the Register.
Clarke County District Judge Dustria Relph addressed public outrage that the Fry’s had escaped jail time. Relph acknowledged the couple’s poor parenting skills and less-than-perfect handling of the kids’ alleged behavior issues, but said they sought help and had received bad advice in return.
“This is about a young couple who got in over their heads in a failed adoption, made poor decisions, and didn’t get help when they needed it, at least not the right help,” Relph wrote in her decision “The defendants made some serious mistakes and, even though they may not be wealthy, I believe they should pay a hefty debt to society even if those payments take several years.
“On the other hand, I also feel strongly that if they pay that debt and fulfill term of probation, they should not be marked as criminals for life,” she added.