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A concerned neighbor said that she got into fights a few times with 28-year-old Scott Suggs and 36-year-old Brandy Kangas over their practice of keeping their three young children barricaded behind a gate.
Those parents will be avoiding jail time, however, after it was ruled that they did not cause physical harm.
Suggs and Kangas have three children together — ages 1, 3 and 4 — and subjected them to living in a squalid home, which was described by Spotsylvania attorney William Neely as “a nasty condition, a disgusting condition,” as NBC News reported.
“They were filthy, they were covered in a rash which turned out to have been treatable — they were well-nourished and healthy when social services took them into custody,” Neely continued.
NBC News described the conditions further:
According to a court summary, “there was a noticeable, pungent odor where the three children were in a family room behind a homemade gate. […] The gate had a lock on it and the key was hanging up on a wall.”
Deputies said the 17-month-old boy and 3- and 4-year-old girls shared a mattress inside the cage, and were kept behind the gate day and night. Neely said the carpet had feces and urine stains on it. But, he said, the case did not meet the requirements for Virginia Supreme Court’s child neglect law, and therefore did not merit prison time.
Though Suggs and Kangas weren’t jailed, they have been put on indefinite supervised probation, ordered to pay $2,500 each and have been prohibited from having future contact with their children, who have been placed in a foster home. They also are undergoing drug treatment, Neely said.
The siblings “lacked social skills because they had virtually no contact with the public. They lived in that room,” Spotsylvania County Capt. Jeff Pearce told WWBT.
But Neely said the children weren’t harmed physically, “and that’s what the child abuse statute requires, is physical harm.”
The couple has been sentenced to supervised probation and must act as “model citizens” for the next 10 years. The children, meanwhile, are in foster care.