DENVER (AP) — Two parents accused of neglecting their four young boys and keeping them in a filthy Denver apartment pleaded not guilty to felony child abuse charges on Thursday.
Wayne Sperling, 66, and Lorinda Bailey, 36, arrived separately for their arraignments and sat in different rows as they waited for their case to be called. They stood before the judge, separated by their two lawyers, and they did not speak to each other during the hearing. They declined to comment as they left.
The boys, ages 2 to 6, were removed from their home in October after an emergency room doctor asked social services to check on the family after Bailey took her youngest son to the hospital for a cut on his forehead. The doctor noticed that the boy was unwashed, smelled like cigarette smoke and had bruising behind an ear consistent with pinching.
Court documents say the apartment was found to be filled with cat feces and flies and that the children could communicate only in grunts, were malnourished and weren't toilet trained. Doctors couldn't find any medical records at all for the 5-year-old.
Sperling told investigators he was the primary guardian for the boys. Lorinda Bailey said she was living in another apartment in the same building but saw the boys most days.
Neighbors have said they previously called social services with concerns about the family, but the agency has refused to discuss that or its previous involvement with the family, citing confidentiality reasons.
Sperling and Bailey have lost custody of other children amid similar allegations.
Police were called to the couple's apartment in October 2006 when passers-by reported two young children were playing in the street. According to court records, one child spoke few words and mostly grunted and pointed to communicate. The officers said they found rotten food, trash and insects in the apartment.
Sperling and Bailey pleaded guilty in June 2007 to misdemeanor child abuse and lost custody of their three oldest children. In addition, a baby they were expecting at the time and another child who followed were taken care of temporarily by a foster family before being returned. They later had two more sons. Those four children are the ones they're now accused of abusing.
The case is not headed to trial anytime soon. Defense attorneys and prosecutors expect a number of motions to be filed and will discuss them at a hearing scheduled for April 18.