The house of squalor that 10 chil­dren lived in

The Mercury - - NEWS - Marwa El­t­agouri and Avi Selk

TEN chil­dren have been re­moved from a home in Fair­field, Cal­i­for­nia, where police say they were tor­tured, burnt, beaten and even shot with a pel­let gun while liv­ing amid squalor and abuse of all kinds.

All of this al­legedly took place in­side a bright, gable-roofed, four-bed­room house that looks from the out­side as well-kept as the rest of those in the cul-de-sac. Some neigh­bours of Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen said they had no idea the cou­ple even had so many chil­dren.

And Rogers, out on bail while her hus­band ap­peared in court on 15 felony charges this week, gave reporters an open­house tour of what she in­sisted was a loving if un­con­ven­tional home.

“My hus­band is an amaz­ing per­son,” she said. “I am an amaz­ing mother.”

The 30-year-old is the mother of all 10 chil­dren – from a 4-month-old in­fant to her old­est, a 12-year-boy.

Allen, a year younger than Rogers, is the fa­ther of eight of the chil­dren, she said.

Larry Mag­ney, who lives across the street in Field­stone Court, told the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle that the cou­ple moved in about a year ago.

He was re­turn­ing from church one day at the end of March, he said, and found Rogers “run­ning around the neigh­bour­hood” in search of her 12-year-old. She later told reporters the boy had left home an­gry be­cause she had taken his com­puter tablet away.

The boy was found sleep­ing un­der a bush in a neigh­bour’s yard, police said.

What of­fi­cers saw when they re­turned him to his home on March 31 caused author­i­ties to seize the chil­dren and launch a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Urine, hu­man and an­i­mal fae­ces, garbage and rotten food lit­tered the floor, police said, and heaps of de­bris blocked off parts of the house.

Pic­tures ob­tained by ABC af­fil­i­ate KGO show fur­ni­ture, trash, toys and mis­cel­lany scat­tered at ev­ery an­gle, as if a storm had torn through the home. A bath­room was cov­ered wall-to-wall in an­i­mal drop­pings.

Rogers told police she had torn the house apart look­ing for the 12-year-old, As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported. When she was later asked why all 10 chil­dren slept in a sin­gle room while the other bed­rooms were used as the par­ents’ quar­ters, a “med­i­ta­tion room” and a play­room, Rogers replied that the chil­dren liked it that way.

The mother was ar­rested on March 31, the same night her son was re­turned to her, and booked into Solano County Jail for al­leged child ne­glect.

All her chil­dren were then taken into pro­tec­tive cus­tody by Solano County Child Wel­fare ser­vices and placed in the care of other fam­ily mem­bers, with whom they re­main.

In the six weeks since that ar­rest, police said, author­i­ties have in­ter­viewed the eight older chil­dren and learnt more dis­turb­ing de­tails about their lives.

The chil­dren had been home-schooled and were seen out­side so rarely that some neigh­bours were shocked to learn that more than a few lived at the house.

Some of the chil­dren, police said, de­scribed in­ci­dents of in­ten­tional abuse dat­ing to 2014 – punc­ture wounds, burns, bruis­ing and in­juries con­sis­tent with be­ing shot with an air­soft or BB gun.

On Fri­day, Allen was also ar­rested and charged with nine counts of felony tor­ture and six counts of felony child abuse.

He ap­peared in court on Mon­day, pleaded not guilty, and was or­dered held in lieu of about $5 mil­lion (R62m) bail.

Sharon Henry, chief deputy dis­trict at­tor­ney for Solano County, called the fa­ther’s be­hav­iour “sadis­tic” and said Rogers would likely also face more charges.

“Based on what the chil­dren stated in their in­ter­views, we be­lieve tor­ture oc­curred in this house,” Henry said at a news con­fer­ence.

But the mother, free on bail since early April, held a sort of news con­fer­ence of her own this week.

“My kids get bumped and bruised and scratched be­cause they’re kids, but that’s it,” she told reporters in front of her house. “There’s no bro­ken bones, there is no ma­jor scars, noth­ing.”

She led reporters through the house, which the AP re­ported still looked squalid be­hind the cream-coloured, hedge-lined ex­te­rior: an­i­mal drop­pings lit­tered the bath­room, and scuff marks still cov­ered some walls.

Rogers said she felt un­fairly judged for her life­style. She first got preg­nant when she was 16, she said, and had been with Rogers for the past 10 years, and they both wanted a large fam­ily.

They both worked, she said – she on the grave­yard shift as an EKG tech­ni­cian, and Allen as a tat­too artist.

Aleida Quart­man, who told AP she was one of Rogers’s co-work­ers, said she knew the mother to spoil her fam­ily – even if so many chil­dren, plus cats, a dog and fish left her house un­sightly.

Allen’s mother, Peggy Allen, said she had spo­ken to her son about the im­por­tance of house­keep­ing,

Also, on Chris­tian val­ues – but that Allen avoided her and kept his rel­a­tives away from the chil­dren.

“My hus­band has a lot of tat­toos.

“He looks like a scary in­di­vid­ual, and that’s why peo­ple are so quick to judge him,” Rogers told reporters.

Also this week, Allen told KCRA-TV from Solano County Jail that he has never spanked his chil­dren.

“I want the police to know that I am not an an­i­mal, I am not an an­i­mal,” Allen said.

On the same day, the Solano County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice said it would seek to amend the com­plaint against Rogers to add nine counts of felony child abuse. – The Washington Post

PIC­TURE: AP

Ina Rogers talks to reporters in Fair­field, Cal­i­for­nia. IN­SET: Jonathan Allen ap­peared in court on 15 felony charges this week.

PIC­TURE: AP

The home of Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen in Fair­field.

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