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www.wmfd.com - A Wyoming sheriff is responding to criticism of how his office handled a child abuse case. }}" />

   
 
 
Sheriff Defends Handling Of Child In Cage Case

Story By: Larry Stine

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  Original Published: 8/7/2014

A Wyoming sheriff is responding to criticism of how his office handled a child abuse case. The ongoing case came to a head when deputies found a seven-year-old boy in a six-by-six-foot cage. The boy said he'd been living there, on and off, for three weeks. "Even though there was suspicion and concern and the child never fell off our radar, there was just never sufficient justification for either an enforcement action or an action of taking the child into custody." Albany County, Wyoming Sheriff David O'Malley is talking about the months leading up to his deputies' disturbing discovery. On July 24th investigators found the seven-year-old child in a cage about the size of this trailer, standing about five feet off the ground," says KUSA reporter Steve Staeger. "But in the year leading up to this, sheriff deputies had visited the family's home eight times on reports of child abuse." The visits started in August of last year, when deputies received a report from the child's school that the child had arrived with a sore back, and a scratch and was walking with a limp. Deputies determined that report was unfounded. Between October and March, deputies visited five more times on reports from both school officials and DFS. Those reports varied from the child complaining about not getting enough food at home, to the child reporting they were forced to stay outside and got sick. Then in May of this year, interviewing the child about another report the child did something odd. "Bring him to a safer environment?" asks Staeger "No, certainly not," says Sheriff O'Malley."You need to have something that's concrete, something that's substantial." Eight days later, another interview, this time with the mother's boyfriend. He reported forcing the child to urinate and defecate outside. He also said he'd given the child alcohol and forced the child to sit on a bucket in the backyard for long periods of time. "The difference between that and sitting in a corner with a dunce cap on, there are things that I wouldn't do to my children, you wouldn't do to your children, but they're not actionable issues," says Sheriff O'Malley. Ten weeks later, deputies discovered the child in that cage. Nine News psychologist Max Wachtel says the sheriff's department should have acted sooner. "This is an absolute fail on the sheriff's department," Wachtel says. "They came out eight times in nine months." "He's not here I guess so he can say what he needs to say," Says Sheriff O'Malley. "We worked the situation as a group, as a team." The child's mother and her boyfriend are facing charges of felonious restraint and aggravated child abuse. They are both being held in Albany County. If convicted, they could each spend more than 40 years in prison.

   
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