Utah mom pleads guilty to abuse of son locked in bathroom

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A Utah mother pleaded guilty Tuesday to child abuse charges filed after her 12-year-old son was found severely malnourished in a feces-strewn bathroom where authorities believe he was locked for about a year.

The 36-year-old woman pleaded guilty to three counts of abuse in a St. George courtroom, KSL-TV reports. She's scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 28.

The boy weighed just 30 pounds when he was found in January with one blanket and a few empty cans of beans in the filthy bathroom equipped with a camera in the small southeastern Utah city of Toquerville.

The child had spent the last two Christmases in the bathroom, listening to family members open presents, prosecutors have said.

The Associated Press is not naming her or the child's father to avoid identifying the boy.

Defense attorney Edward Flint has said she had a "total mental breakdown" that left her overwhelmed and unable to care for the boy, who has special needs.

The abuse was discovered after the boy's father brought him to a hospital.

The 40-year-old man is also facing a felony child abuse charge after prosecutors said he failed to help the child sooner and delayed getting the boy medical care for hours after letting him out of the bathroom.

The father has not yet entered a plea.

The boy and two other children in the home were taken into foster care after the mother was arrested. The child has been recovering from his malnourishment, though he lost some mobility in his limbs from being confined in the small space for such a long time and has trouble running and walking, authorities said.

The bathroom was locked from the outside, and its shower drain and light switch were sealed off, according to court documents.

Earlier this year, Flint argued in court that his client's bail should be reduced because she was forced to sleep on a cot and deprived of regular showers.

On Tuesday, Flint said his client's well-being has suffered since her arrest, according to The Spectrum of St. George.

Flint said that in addition to the mother's "great regret, great remorse," and feeling "horrible about what's happened in her family and her conduct, this entire time since January she's been held essentially in solitary confinement."

"You kind of go stir-crazy in those circumstances," he said.


Information from: KSL-TV, http://www.ksl.com/

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