Pennsylvania mother jailed in abuse case allowed home with children

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 14, 2014 6:12 PM

By Elizabeth Daley

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania woman sentenced to jail for mistreating her adopted children will be allowed to go home six days a week to care for her biological children when she starts her sentence this month.

Kristen and Douglas Barbour adopted two children from Ethiopia and within six months were arrested in 2012 for allegedly harming them. The 5-year-old boy was malnourished and the 13-month-old girl had multiple broken bones, prosecutors said.

The couple, who lived in Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, pleaded no contest to endangering the welfare of the children in exchange for other criminal charges, including assault, being dismissed. Douglas Barbour was a deputy state attorney general at the time of his arrest.

Kristen Barbour was sentenced to up to a year in jail but last week Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning modified the sentence to allow her to leave jail for eight hours, six days a week to care for the couple's children. They are aged 4 and 6, according to local media.

Prosecutors, in court papers obtained on Tuesday, objected to the home furlough and had sought a stiffer sentence.

A light sentence "would send a message to the community that endangerment that led to observable suffering and permanent damage is not something that the criminal justice system takes seriously," prosecutors wrote in the court papers.

"We believed that she was responsible for the majority of the abuse," Allegheny County District Attorney spokesman Mike Manko said.

Douglas Barbour, who resigned as deputy state attorney general last year, served no jail time. He was placed on probation and works at a family business.

In court documents, he said he could take care of the children should their mother be sent to jail, adding to the prosecutors' objections.

Kristen Barbour's sentence begins on Oct. 20.

The children from Ethiopia have since been adopted by another family.

The new parents said in interviews with local media that the little boy is doing well but the girl suffered brain damage and may have learning disabilities.

Neither of the Barbours' lawyers could be reached for comment.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Walsh)