KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City, Mo., couple is accused of restraining a 9-year-old girl in a dirty basement with exposed sewage.
Lacey A. Chaney, 27, and Timothy A. Phillips, were charged with one count each of abuse or neglect of a child, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child and felonious restraint.
Phillips told authorities he punished the girl for recently getting suspended from school by locking her in the basement. According to court records, the door was secured by a lock and chain. Phillips said he provided the 9-year-old with two bottles of water and a packed lunch.
A school nurse reported possible abuse to police, according to court records.
Innocence lost: A timeline of child abuse cases in the Kansas City area http://bit.ly/WzK9FW
Jackson County deputies were called to Korte Elementary at 6:30 p.m. on May 10 for a possible child abuse case. Police said the victim, identified in court records by her initials, KMP, was taken to the nurse's office because she smelled like urine. The girl told the nurse that her private parts hurt.
The nurse told authorities that the victim's vaginal area was red and irritated. She told deputies that KMP said she'd been locked in her parents' basement.
The parents admitted to sheriff's deputies they locked the girl in the basement during the day as a punishment for recently being suspended from school, according to the court documents.
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According to court documents, Phillips said KMP lived in the unfinished basement, while his girlfriend and her biological son lived upstairs. He blamed the victim's lack of bladder control as the reason to keep her confined in the basement.
Deputies say Phillips told them he could not afford to keep cleaning up after her.
"When (the victim) pisses, (the victim) leaves a large puddle," he reportedly told deputies.
He also told authorities he only bathed KMP every five days because she did not like to bathe.
Sheriff's deputies noted the partially-carpeted basement was saturated with dirt and contained exposed sewage.
A neighbor afraid to reveal her identity noticed the different treatment Phillips gave the 9-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy.
"He was more generous, I think, with his love toward the little boy than the little girl," she said.
She sensed something wrong with the girl, who shied away from everyone.
"She was very thin and, what, 3 feet high?" said the neighbor. Had she known the true age of the frail child, the neighbor says she would have called police.
"I would say she looked like she should have been in kindergarten rather than 9 years old," she said.
And hearing what this girl went through so close to her was devastating.
"That was mind blowing, it made me cry," she said.
Phillips and Chaney are each being held on a $100,000 cash bond.
If you suspect a child is being mistreated, you're urged to report it. The Missouri child abuse hotline is 1-800-392-3738. The Kansas child abuse hotline is 1-800-922-5330.