Lake Geneva couple accused of child abuse and neglect

The trial for the Lake Geneva parents Kathleen and Martin O’Brien who have been charged with child abuse and neglect started on July 15, 2015. Although, the charges against the couple were made in May 2012, the case was delayed as an appeal was pending in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The moot question forming the basis of appeal was that whether courts should rely on hearsay evidence to find probable cause at preliminary hearings. Ultimately, to which the state Supreme Court let hearsay remain at preliminary hearings.

 Now in the present trial, Kathleen and Martin O’Brien are accused of abusing six of their children — some of whom were adopted from other countries. The couple faces a total of 23 counts of criminal child abuse, felony and misdemeanor. During the trial proceedings at Walworth County Court, one of the adoptive kid (17 years) from Guatemala revealed and testified to the jury that the Lake Geneva parents abused him and his five adopted siblings physically and emotionally for years by making them stand naked, not feeding them and locking them in a bedroom. Besides this among the several other accusations, prosecutors said Kathleen and Martin O’Brien made their children stand barefoot outside during the winter. The kids were allegedly subjected with pepper spray, and one was reportedly picked up the neck. Further the teenager testified to court that the other adopted children who were from Russia and Guatemala, were kept locked in a bedroom and given a bucket to urinate.

 However on other hand, couple’s attorneys argued in defense that Kathleen and Martin O’Brien’s actions are being misinterpreted and that – “the accusations are rooted in the adopted children’s difficulty adjusting to the O’Briens’ regimented household and their inability to emotionally escape their difficult lives in Russia or Guatemala.”[1] The counsels further argued that the teenager who testified to court was delinquent and had behavioral issues. He also manipulated the other children into thinking they were slaves of the O’Briens and were being treated unfairly.

 The outcome of this trial is awaited and a three-week trial in the case is scheduled to run through July in Walworth County Circuit Court.



[1] See. http://www.gazettextra.com/20150713/opening_statements_made_in_lake_geneva_child_abuse_trial [Arcticle – Opening Statements…..]



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