A Pennsylvania foster family beat and starved three young children over a period of six years, even staging a videotaped fight between two of the children in an effort to cover their tracks, police said.
Brenda Parise, 60, and her daughter, Amy Parise, who is turning 33 on Wednesday, were arrested Monday on felony child endangerment charges and other offenses.
According to a police affidavit, the Parises beat the children — who were 6, 3, and 11 months when they were placed in the home in 2011 — with a belt and paddle and withheld food from them. When the children were fed, they were made to eat cross-legged on the floor with a hand behind the back, and were largely given bologna sandwiches and sometimes chicken, authorities said.
Amy Parise allegedly forced one child to assault a sibling and shot video of the assault in an effort to mislead Luzerne County’s child welfare agency. On another occasion, her mother allegedly dragged a child across the floor. Both women repeatedly gave one of the children a higher-than-prescribed dose of medicine, according to court documents.
A third family member, 30-year-old Shawn Parise — who lived next door and is Brenda’s son and Amy’s brother — was also charged with beating the children.
All three defendants in the abuse case were jailed Monday after failing to post bail. Court documents don’t list a defense attorney who could speak on their behalf.
The children were placed in the home by Luzerne County Children and Youth Services in December 2011 but weren’t removed until December 2017.
It wasn’t clear why or how the children were permitted to languish for so long or whether an investigation into the handling of their case by child welfare authorities has been launched. A phone call seeking comment was placed to the director of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services declined to comment on the case Tuesday but noted the state agency regularly reviews county children and youth records for compliance with state regulations.
The last several state inspections of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services found persistent staffing shortages and numerous other deficiencies, and the county agency’s certificate of compliance was changed to provisional status in 2015. The regular compliance certificate was restored in 2017 after state officials determined Luzerne County had made sufficient progress in fixing the problems.
The persistent abuse left marks, bruises and severe scarring on the children’s bodies, police said. All three children were malnourished and suffered from scabies, a condition caused by mites that burrow under the skin and lay eggs. One child was hospitalized in 2014 for failure to thrive and extreme weight loss.
Police said the home was in deplorable condition.
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