Couple Who Caged Autistic Child Sentenced to Probation

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
January 16, 2019US News
Couple Who Caged Autistic Child Sentenced to Probation

JONESBOROUGH—Two people who locked an autistic girl in a cage at a home in northeastern Tennessee have received probation after pleading guilty to child neglect.

WCYB-TV reports the sentencing for 64-year-old Mickey Sparks and 44-year-old Patricia Laws came last Jan. 10 after a hearing in criminal court. They were originally charged with child abuse, and the girl remains in state custody.

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said in a statement at the time that deputies conducting a welfare check found a locked wooden cage with a filthy mattress and a 10-year-old autistic child inside.

Court records obtained by WCYB said the couple told state officials that keeping the child caged was the only way they could control her.

Sparks and Laws also have three other children that remain in their care.

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