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Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 02:04 PM   #1
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Stepfather of girl locked in closet goes on trial

Stepfather of girl locked in closet goes on trial
Monday, December 2, 2002 Posted: 7:37 AM EST (1237 GMT)


DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- The stepfather of a girl locked inside a filthy closet and starved for months was a battered husband, according to an expert who will testify in the man's defense.

Kenneth Atkinson goes to trial this week on a charge of causing serious bodily injury to the girl. Jury selection was to begin Monday.

Atkinson told a neighbor nearly 18 months ago his stepdaughter was locked in a closet in the mobile home he shared with his wife. He is hoping to avoid the life sentence that a jury gave the girl's mother, Barbara Atkinson, for depriving the child of food, water, clothes and a toilet.

"He's not quite the monster one would have you believe," William Tedford, a psychologist hired by the defense, told The Dallas Morning News. "He was pretty well dominated by his wife."

The 35-year-old man is also charged with sexual assault of a child, but prosecutor Patricia Hogue said she expects to try him only on the injury charge. If convicted, he could face five years to life in prison.

The 8-year-old girl weighed 25 pounds and stood 3 feet tall when she was rescued from the closet in June 2001. She has since been adopted by a couple who had tried to adopt her at birth.

The child, now 9, has since gained weight and is enrolled in the first grade.

Kenneth Atkinson was afraid of his wife, who he said was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive, Tedford said. He added the man never called the police because he was embarrassed.

Tedford said Atkinson told him he was not aware the girl was living in the closet until about two or three months before their arrests. Previously, his wife told him the girl was sleeping or visiting someone.

"Certainly, he's guilty of not telling about it sooner," Tedford said.

Court documents and testimony show the child told authorities that both parents denied her food and forced her to live in the closet.

A judge has terminated the Atkinsons' parental rights to the girl's five siblings, who are living in a foster home and are available for adoption. Kenneth Atkinson is the biological father of three of the children.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 03:23 PM   #2
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This kind of thing just makes me ill...seriously ill...

How could anyone treat a child like that? I mean, really? I have a 2 year old that weighs more than 25 pounds..

I hope the parents get what they deserve..
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Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 11:17 PM   #3
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OMG! That's horrible! Poor kid!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 11:49 PM   #4
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I have no sympathy for that bastard. Send him in for life, just like the bitch he married.
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