Solitary confinement: Christian homeschoolers in Georgia have been charged with first-degree cruelty to children and false imprisonment after keeping their 13-year-old son alone and locked up in a dark basement for nearly two years as punishment for stealing.
Recardo Wimbush, 33, and Therian Cornelia Wimbush, 37, say they confined their young teen son because he’d taken the family DVD player and then lied about it.
According to Cpl. Jake Smith, a spokesman for Gwinnett police:
The victim had been confined to the room for most of the past two years and a lock had been added to the victim’s room in January 2013. The victim had no access to books, toys, entertainment devices, or his siblings.
The boy was being confined to a small room that locked from the outside; it contained a bare box springs and mattress and “a large plastic jar, which was apparently used as a toilet,” Smith said.
The arrest warrant said the child was “sent to the basement of the family house for the past two years in deplorable conditions due to being disobedient.”
The father, Recardo Wimbush, is a former college football star who played for Georgia Tech as a linebacker. Wimbush was captain of the football team during his 2002 senior season.
Raw Story reports a family website – “You’ve Been Wimbushed!” — indicates the parents are devout Christians who use the Hebrew names for God – “Yah” – and other biblical figures and advocate continual prayer.
Neighbor Pam Harris said
They were a very odd family, they had ten children who were all home schooled and nicely dressed but weren’t allowed to be sociable.
You would never see the children playing outside on their own or in twos or threes, they would only ever go outside all together as a family with the parents watching.
They seemed very strict disciplinarians. They didn’t believe in Christmas and didn’t celebrate Halloween.
If children in the neighborhood knocked on their door for trick or treat the parents would hand out bibles instead of candy.
Once they had a notice on their door that blew in to my yard. It said those who work on Sunday should be put to death.
After a hearing earlier this month, a judge ordered all of the couple’s ten children – the youngest of which is only 18 months old – into state custody.
Not all homeschoolers are Christian, and not all Christian homeschoolers abuse their children. However, homeschooling does afford unstable parents a unique opportunity to abuse and neglect their children for a prolonged period of time. The fact that parents could keep a child locked up in a basement dungeon for nearly two years without being detected indicates a serious problem with homeschooling that needs to be addressed.
Children are not the property of parents, and religious belief is never an acceptable justification for child abuse.