A Michigan mother pleaded guilty to child abuse for locking her five children in a basement bedroom as a form of punishment. Sarah Conde pleaded guilty to denying her children dental care after authorities determined all of her children had some sort of dental disease.
In court, Sarah Conde pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree child abuse according to a report by the Lansing State Journal. As a part of the plea, the court dropped twelve charges against her including unlawful imprisonment, first and second-degree child abuse, and abuse with a dangerous weapon. Conde faces from 29 months to 10 years in prison for the plea. The court will sentence her later this summer.
Last year police arrested Conde and her husband Yenier Conde for locking their children in a basement bedroom as a form of punishment. Authorities described the bedroom as a dungeon. The children were locked inside without food, water, or access to a bathroom.
When authorities interviewed the children, they learned that the parents used the room from June 2011 – June 2017.
For an unknown reason, the parents used the room to punish the children. The children were left in the dark place for days at a time without any supervision, food, water, or a toilet. Authorities said the room smelled like human feces and urine when they searched the home.
After searching the home, police arrested both Sarah and Yenier Conde for child abuse, unlawful imprisonment, and felony firearm possession. Following the arrest, authorities placed the children in foster care. Experts that evaluated the children told the court they suffered severe trauma, and several had severe mood disorders from the abuse.
Throughout the children’s lives, they were denied medical care, routinely beaten, threatened with guns, and verbally abused. According to court records, CPS was involved in the family’s lives as far back as 2009. Between 2009 – 2017, at least ten reports were made to CPS related to suspected abuse of the children.
In 2009, one of their children was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. After completing chemotherapy in 2011, the boy reported to CPS that his parents weren’t taking him to follow-up appointments. Doctors ordered that he be seen every three months. However, the parents never took him to see the doctor.
During interviews with authorities, one of their children, a ten-year-old boy, said his parents locked them in a room. While in the dark room, their parents gave them diapers and did not allow them to use the bathroom. Additionally, their parents denied them food and water.
Eventually, the children smashed holes in the walls of the room and attempted to pass food to one another through vents. The boy said that their mother would also pass food through the vents. At times Sarah Conde tried to help her children, and other times she ruthlessly beat them.
According to the boy, if the children attempted to escape through the vent, they were viciously beaten by their parents. The children told police that they were locked in the room for up to two days at a time. When police searched the home, they found the room with holes in the wall, boarded up videos, and the outside door had a wooden slab over it with screws to keep the children inside.After finding the room, Yenier Conde told police that he didn’t believe locking up his children was a crime. He told CPS he would take any “punishment that came his way.”
For Sarah’s part, she insisted that her husband was the primary abuser. Additionally, she stated she was trapped in a violent relationship and followed her husband’s orders. As a result, the children were malnourished and been denied medical care during their lives.
Since Sarah Conde pleaded to lesser charges, she may be helping prosecutors to strengthen their case against her husband. Yenier Conde is facing 15 felonies that include first and second-degree child abuse, false imprisonment, felony gun possession, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Yenier was arrested in 2013 for theft and embezzlement in 2013.
After the couple’s arrest, they divorced and lost custody of their children. Sarah Conde remains out on bond while she awaits sentencing on her conviction. Yenier Conde could face up to life in prison if convicted on all charges. His trial will begin on July 11, 2019.
Sarah Conde had a responsibility to take care of her children. Rather than leaving a violent marriage, she remained with a man and participated in the beating, torture, and neglect of her children. She may have started as a victim, but she eventually turned into a co-conspirator in the abuse of her children.
While the parents will spend time in jail, the children are forever imprisoned by the abuse and neglect they experienced. After two years in foster care, experts testified that the children are still suffering from severe trauma and mood disorders from the abuse inflicted on them by their parents.
If only CPS could have intervened sooner, maybe these children would have been saved from this fate. However, now they may never recover and may struggle for the rest of their lives.
Both of these parents deserve to be locked up for the rest of their lives. Sarah Conde’s plea agreement seems like a slap on the wrist.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis on The Non-Sequitur Channel. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
Communicate with Katie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Merchandise available at Teespring.
Buy Katie Joy a cup of Coffee.
Individuals wishing to help Katie with her expenses can become patrons. Patrons gain exclusive access to stories, new projects, and future books.