Here's today's story and below the column I wrote below it in response
Caged boys say abusers' penalty too light
KEVIN CONNOR, Special to The London Free Press and news services July 6/04
OSHAWA -- Two brothers at the heart of one of the worst child-abuse cases in Canadian history were visibly upset yesterday when their parents received nine-month jail sentences after torturing them for 13 years. "I don't feel (justice) has been served," said one boy, now 17, as he stood shoulder to shoulder with his 18-year-old brother. "I feel they should get more time."
The older boy agreed. "The justice system sucks," he said.
The Port Perry-area brothers, who were adopted at ages three and five in 1988 by their mother's sister and her husband, were forced to wear diapers into their teens, slept in dog cages, were beaten and locked in cribs.
They lived in such fear that they ate their own feces to hide evidence of accidents and, deprived of water, felt compelled to drink their own urine, court was told.
The teens -- who now live in different foster homes -- were happy to see each other and hugged in the Oshawa court before the sentencing.
It has been three years since the teens -- neither of whom can be identified -- were rescued from their home in a case that horrified police and child-care workers, who found them after a tip from a relative.
Both brothers still appear terrified of their abusers. Neither one was able to look at the couple who adopted them.
The boys' adoptive mother, 43, and father, 51, had pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and failure to provide the necessaries of life.
Ontario Court Judge Donald Halikowski blasted the couple's "ill-informed system of discipline" as demeaning and damaging to the boys.
But Halikowski said their behaviour was "underscored by good intentions" and there was no evidence the parents were sadistic.
Rather, the judge said, they were out of their depth when it came to handling boys. The defence said the boys suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit disorder, diagnoses disputed by the Crown.
"There is no doubt they were difficult to raise," said Halikowski, though he added their treatment of the boys was beyond comprehension.
He sentenced the couple to nine months on each of the assault and confinement counts, and one month for the failure-to-provide charge. All the terms run concurrently. They will also be on probation for three years.
On bail since their arrest three years ago, the two didn't speak as they were handcuffed and taken into custody after sentencing.
The defence called the sentence fair and balanced and, despite the evidence, suggested the abuse was not as frequent as child-welfare officials alleged.
"To suggest, as was the theory, that this abusive conduct took place every day for 12 or 13 years was a far-fetched fantasy. That was not the reality," said lawyer Alex Sosna.
"These children were tethered, these children were abused periodically, but not systematically on a daily basis."
Disappointed Crown attorney Soula Olver, who had called for penitentiary terms of as long as eight years, refused to comment but said an appeal is being considered.
Even close relatives of the couple denounced the sentence as too light, given the judge's de>