By Adam Brandolph
A Franklin Park couple pleaded no contest Monday to charges that they endangered the welfare of their two adopted children.
Douglas, 34, and Kristen Barbour, 32, entered a plea of no contest for failing to take care of the children, a daughter who was 13 months old and boy who was 5 years old when they were adopted from Ethiopia in March 2012. Douglas Barbour was a deputy state attorney general when he was charged. He resigned Jan. 30, 2013.
His plea to two misdemeanor counts calls for a sentence of probation. Kristen Barbour’s sentence for her plea to two felony counts will be decided by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning on Sept. 15. She could face jailtime, though her lawyer said he will ask for probation.
“They tried to do something wonderful to provide a better life for these kids,” said Robert Stewart. “This wasn’t an act of malice.”
Police said the couple denied proper nutrition to their adopted son, who was taken to Children‘s Hospital in Lawrenceville on Sept. 14. When admitted, he weighed 9.5 pounds less than when he entered the United States from Ethiopia six months earlier. According to the police affidavit, the adopted boy was admitted to Children’s for hypothermia, rapid breathing and significant skin breakdown. Douglas Barbour initially took him to Express Care in Wexford for an infection.
When the boy was interviewed Oct. 2 at A Child’s Place at Mercy, he said that when he was bad — which he described as urinating or defecating in his pants — he was forced to eat his meals in the bathroom, the affidavit said. He also was forced to stand in the bathroom in the dark, which he said was “scary.”
Doctors found multiple healing fractures in their daughter’s body when she was admitted to Children’s the same day. Doctors said it was abuse.
Deputy District Attorney Jen DiGiovanni said the Barbours have voluntarily given up their parental rights of the children, who were placed in protective custody. The Barbours regained custody of their two biological children in April 2013.
“It appears to me this started out as a significant act of charity gone awry,” Manning said.
Manning allowed Douglas Barbour to go free on bond. Kristen Barbour will be placed on electronic monitoring until she is sentenced.
“It appears this simply became a situation that was overwhelming,” said Charles Porter, Douglas Barbour’s lawyer. “These are good people.”
By Adam Brandolph