SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah father accused of chaining his 7-year-old son to a bed while the man was at work would not serve any jail time under a plea deal awaiting final approval by a judge.
The 29-year-old father from Logan pleaded guilty Monday to one misdemeanor count of child abuse. Defense attorney David Perry said the father could not afford day care for the boy.
Prosecutors did not return messages seeking comment on the deal Wednesday. Court records indicate they have agreed to seek a sentence requiring the father to wear an ankle monitor for about four months and complete 80 hours of community service.
The Associated Press is withholding the name of the father to avoid identifying the child.
The father was charged in June with four misdemeanor counts of child abuse after police following an anonymous tip discovered the boy in a basement bedroom in a middle-class neighborhood of Logan, north of Salt Lake City. Three of the charges were later dropped as part of the plea agreement.
The man acknowledged chaining the boy during the day on other occasions, police said.
Perry disputed whether the allegations constituted child abuse under Utah law. He said the boy wasn't injured by the heavy chain attached to his ankle, and he had access to snacks, water and a bathroom.
"He wasn't chaining him up for punishment or anything," the lawyer said. "He couldn't afford day care. He didn't understand there were other services."
The child was taken into foster care during the investigation. The father, who makes $13 an hour doing general labor, has taken parenting classes and cooperated with state child welfare authorities in an effort to regain custody, Perry said.
The boy's mother isn't currently involved in his upbringing.
A judge has tentatively accepted the plea but won't officially sign off on the sentencing until a Dec. 15 hearing.
The father remains on probation after a separate conviction for felony forgery and theft in 2009. He was arrested again in 2011 when he broke the terms of his probation, online court records show.