Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Police call it one of the worst cases of abuse and neglect they have seen. Now, the Eagle Mountain couple accused of abusing two children in their care, and leaving them malnourished, face criminal charges.
As the two suspects made their first court appearance, prosecutors filed several charges against them resulting from last week's discovery of the abuse. And there is a new allegation that the boy was sexually abused.
"There's a sexual abuse charge, aggravated sexual abuse, and there are several, multiple, child abuse counts; very serious, all of the charges are extremely serious with very severe penalties," said prosecutor Curtis Larson.
Mary Heath, the children's aunt who had custody of them, and her live-in boyfriend, Sekoa Aiono, were both charged with aggravated sexual abuse and nine counts of child abuse.
Prosecutors allege the two not only locked the children in bathrooms during the day and night, but didn't properly feed the children, physically abused them and sexually abused the 8-year-old boy.
Family and friends of Aiono filled all of the seats in the courtroom. Many cried as they saw him in custody. They told us as they left, they were there to show him support through the legal process.
"We love my brother. We just pray that everything works out. We just have to give him support. He really needs us right now," Tusi Aiono said.
The alleged abuse was discovered at the couple's home in Eagle Mountain last week after a neighbor called 911 to report a 9-year-old girl, wearing only underwear, was outside using newspaper to keep warm.
The girl told police she escaped from the bathroom by climbing out the bathroom window.
The two children taken from the home remain in state custody. Police say the last time they checked was on Monday, and that the children were still in the hospital.
The suspects will return to court next week to answer to the charges.
Police say the birth mother who gave up custody of the kids has now come to the state.