An Iowa couple were arrested after allegedly abusing their 13-year-old adopted child and refusing to pick them up after a 9-day hospitalization. Matthew Stephens, 47, and Sarah Stephens, 46, were charged with child endangerment and neglect of a dependent person, according to jail records.
The Stephens couple are accused of “knowingly and willingly [depriving] the victim of food, clothing and shelter,” according to a criminal complaint.
The teenager, referred to as E.S. in court documents, was in their custody for four years between November 2018 and November 2022.
During that time, E.S. was allegedly monitored constantly with a hidden camera in the bedroom and an alarm on the door, a police affidavit stated.
E.S. was also allegedly not allowed to change clothes or maintain proper hygiene, leading them to ask if they could shower at school, the affidavit claimed.
As punishment, E.S. was allegedly not allowed to eat dinner or was allegedly made to stand outside for hours, regardless of cold weather, the affidavit alleged, adding that the teen had lost weight.
There were allegedly other children in the house during this time, and none of them had been treated in the same manor, the affidavit alleged. The two other children at the home are also adopted, WHO13 reported.
E.S. was hospitalized for nine days in November 2022, and when he was discharged, his mom, Sarah Stephens, allegedly refused to pick them up, causing “serious injury to the victim’s mental health and well-being,” according to the affidavit.
Sarah Stephens is currently employed with the Ankeny School District and has been on administrative leave since last year, KCCI reported.
The Stephens couple were given a no contact order and have been released on bail.