FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – Child Protective Services took custody of seven special-needs children after Fort Bend County officials found them living in deplorable conditions at a Richmond-area house.
Police said the children were adopted by Paula Sinclair, 54, and her husband, who does not live at the house and is not facing charges. Allen Richardson, 78, also lived at the house, is facing charges.
The children, two age 14, four age 15, and one 16-year-old, were malnourished, locked in a room and were injured when they hit with a wooden paddle, police said.
The children were taken to the Fort Bend County Children’s Advocacy Center in Rosenberg to be interviewed before being taken to a Houston hospital for treatment.
As of Tuesday, the children remained in the hospital. Those who are able to speak are helping investigators, officials said.
All seven children stayed in one room in the home, detectives said.
When Sinclair took Richardson to a doctor, the children were kept in a closet roughly 5 feet by 8 feet in size, police said. The closet had clothes and boxes inside, making the space small and confined, and the adults were gone so long that the children would urinate on themselves, according to police.
Another room smelled of urine and feces and the children wore shabby clothes, police said. One of the children suffers from Down syndrome and was wearing a dirty diaper when he was removed from the home, according to reports.
It was determined during an interview that none of the children had ever attended school, police said.
The home also operated as a group home. Three disabled adults lived there in addition to the children.
One resident told KPRC-TV the adults lived on the first floor and the children were kept in an upstairs bedroom.
They were not allowed to interact, and he described the home as a “prison.”
“I have never been upstairs,” David Willard said. “I have never been upstairs in five months. Of course, I was told not to speak to anybody here.”
Willard said the children were fed beans and rice three times a day and were forced to eat in their rooms.
“They’d go to the bottom of the stairs, the kids would wait and Coach would bring them a tray with beans and rice, three times a day. That’s how they were fed,” Willard said.
Some neighbors who have lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade were stunned to learn that children lived in the house.
One woman told KPRC-TV that she knew the family personally and had no idea they had children.
“I’ve never seen a kid living in that house or going to school or anything of that sort,” said Leena Mir.
Sinclair and Richardson are facing felony charges of aggravated kidnapping and injury to a child.
They remain in the Fort Bend County Jail.
CPS released the following statement:
"Seven children, (five boys and two girls from age 13 to 16), were removed by Child Protective Services (CPS) from a home in Richmond on Wednesday, Nov. 23, following a report to CPS that alleged possible physical abuse. The report was received Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 22, and a caseworker responded immediately.
"The children, who were all adopted, are receiving complete physical examinations and will be placed in foster care. The affidavit to support the removal of the children was filed Wednesday, Nov. 23 in Fort Bend County's 505th State District Court and CPS was granted temporary custody by Judge Cindy Aguirre. A hearing on the removal has been set for Dec. 6 at 9:30 a.m in that courtroom on the first floor.
"CPS is continuing a joint investigation with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department."
Sinclair and Richardson are scheduled to appear in court Jan. 18.