Genoa City couple charged with child abuse bound over for trial
ELKHORN—The Genoa City couple accused of making their 12-year-old son keep his fingers in his mouth until his lips bled, eat his own feces and urinate in his bedroom were bound over for trial Tuesday afternoon in Walworth County Court.
Michael Donahue, 46, and Carrie Donahue, 37, both of 312 Sumner St., are charged with party to mental harm to a child, party to false imprisonment, party to child neglect and physical abuse of a child intentionally causing harm.
Carrie also faces a charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
The 12-year-old lived with his father, Michael, and step mother, Carrie, between January and December 2013, which is when the abuse reportedly occurred, according to criminal complaints placed into evidence at Tuesday's preliminary hearing.
Michael was granted sole custody of his son and daughter, 14, in January 2013. He was married to Carrie at the time.
Walworth County Child Protective Services in December 2013 received a complaint from Michael's father, Kenneth Donahue, who reported the couple would lock his grandson in his room for 12 hours at a time, the complaint states.
Kenneth witnessed the abuse when he was staying with the family, Genoa City Police Chief Joseph Balog testified Tuesday.
Balog investigated the abuse allegations and attended the 12-year-old's forensic interview when the child said he had been locked in his room, Balog said.
Defense attorneys James Dickinson and Aneeq Ahmad filed a motion to dismiss the couple's false imprisonment charges. They claimed parents have “lawful authority” over a minor under the age of 15, and the prosecution didn't show in the criminal complaint or through testimony that false imprisonment occurred.
Judge Phillip Koss denied the motion and said it would be a question for the jury to decide if the couple's actions were reasonable.
“If a 2-year-old is wandering the streets, I think it's fair to put a latch on the door,” Koss said. “If a 4-year-old wants to go to the neighbors' house and you say no, you can grab onto that child.
"I think this all comes within the reasonableness of the privilege of parents, and I'm not saying that in each and every case parents can, nor am I saying in each and every case parent's can't. I'm saying there's reasonable privilege to be applied here," Koss said.
The children told authorities Carrie made the 12-year-old eat his own feces in October 2013. She threatened to hurt him if he didn't swallow when the boy nearly threw up, according to the complaint.
Interviews with family members and the boy and medical records indicate the boy exhibited certain behaviors only when he was in the presence of Michael and Carrie, according to the complaints.
The Donahues are free on signature bonds. They are scheduled to appear next in court at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Walworth County Judicial Center.