SEATTLE — A father and stepmother accused of withholding a 14-year-old girl’s food and water so drastically that she weighed only 48 pounds have been charged with criminal mistreatment.
King County prosecutors on Monday charged the girl’s father, 43-year-old Jon Earl Pomeroy, and her 44-year-old stepmother, Rebecca Arwen Long, with both first- and second-degree criminal mistreatment.
The girl, who is 4 feet 7 inches tall, was removed from the home near the east King County community of Carnation after a King County sheriff’s deputy went to the residence on Aug. 13 on a welfare check. A neighbor had called Child Protective Services and reported screaming coming from the house the night before.
The girl told the deputy her stepmother believed she was a behavioral problem and restricted her water to about half a small cup each day — about 6 ounces — to discipline her, court papers said. The girl said she was given primarily toast to eat.
According to prosecutors, Long confirmed to the deputy that she considered the girl a behavior problem and that she restricted the child’s water as discipline. The woman said she had been home-schooling the girl and her 12-year-old brother.
The boy’s height and weight were normal. However, both children were removed from the home and placed in foster care.
The girl was first treated for two weeks at Childrens’ Hospital in Seattle for severe malnutrition. Dentists had to extract six teeth and put crowns on the rest because of long-term erosion and decay, court papers said.
In the month and a half the girl has been in foster care, she has gained more than 20 pounds, prosecutors said. Her foster father says she is attending a school and making friends. He has reported no behavioral problems.
Prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe said the parents could face as much as four years in prison if convicted. They were arrested Friday but released on personal recognizance Saturday.
They are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 27 in King County Superior Court.
The father is a software engineer, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. In court papers, prosecutors said they had documented that Pomeroy had medical insurance coverage.