Grandparents plead guilty to abuse with 'goat whips and shock collars'
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Two Chesterfield grandparents will spend at least the next seven years in prison for abusing their three grandchildren.
James Crawford and his wife, Cheri Crawford, plead guilty to three counts of unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person. The couple admitted in court that they abused their grandchildren, ages 8, 11 and 12, starting in July 2009.
In court proceeding, it was revealed that one of the brothers was forced to physically abuse his brothers with a shock collar. Fourth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Adam M. Foard told WBTV before the court hearing that the couple used goat whips and shock collars on all three children.
The Crawford's forced one of the boys to live in a trailer without electricity, another was forced to live in a utility shed without air conditioning. The third grandson was able to live in the house with the grandparents.
During court Monday morning, it was revealed that the boys were forced to rake pine needles from 'sun up to sun down' and were forced to stand military style in the yard.
"They said if there wasn't raking to do they would have to dig holes and fill those up," said Assistant Solicitor Kendall Burch.
The boys were even forced to stand up for most of the meals they were served, which prosecutors say was 'sour food.'
The boys were forced to use a bucket inside a tent as a bathroom.
The 11 year old was made to hurt his brothers.
"He was made to shock the other two children," said Burch.
It was the summer of last year when a neighbor saw the three boys standing at attention, like soldiers in the heat, in Crawford's front yard.
"Then the second time she saw Cheri Crawford chasing the youngest on a golf cart and he was crying and she was screaming at him," said Burch.
Burch told WBTV the children lived with their grandparents after their father was murdered several years ago in Missouri. Their biological Mother is said to have drug addiction issues and no one knows where she is.
Burch says when the kids were adopted, things were OK at first. Burch says the kids told here the Crawfords even took them on family vacations, but the relationship with the kids went down hill.
"They pulled them out of school and started home schooling them which ended up being more of a physical labor camp," said Burch.
Neither had very much to say in court Monday morning, but Burch says Cheri Crawford told investigators why she did what she did.
"She said this is not abuse this is discipline," said Burch.
James Crawford was sentenced to 7 years in prison, while his wife was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Both were also sentenced to 5 years of probation.
All three boys are now in the custody of the Department of Social Services.
Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.