DENVER - Despite a paper trail of abuse and negligence charges dating back to 2006, and a Denver Police report indicating unsanitary conditions last year, four children were allowed to stay in a Denver home until they were rescued late last month. Those children were described as non-verbal, unwashed and stinking of cigarette smoke.
In the 2012 report about the clutter and unsanitary conditions, the responding Denver police officer says broken glass was found on the floor of the children's rooms. The officer also described seeing a stained, uncovered mattress during that visit.
The visit was prompted by reports of children seen hanging from a first-floor window.
Wayne Sperling, 66, pled guilty to one charge of wrongs to minor in that case, but it wasn't his first conviction.
Sperling and Lorinda Bailey, 35, faced three charges of misdemeanor child abuse in 2006. Then, in 2009, the couple pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse.
Bailey told police she lost custody of three children at that time.
"It's very concerning this has gone on as long as it has," said David Littman, who has a law office across the street from the family's home on 18th Avenue.
Littman told 7NEWS he called DHS several times, including this summer while Sperling was still on probation for the 2012 charge.
"The fact that conditions were reported as so deplorable, suggests that social services failed to show up," Littman said.
The four other children were finally rescued from the home when Bailey took the youngest, a 2-year-old, to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital to be treated for a cut on his forehead on Sept. 29.
Bailey told the doctor the cut occurred after a fall. The doctor said that explanation was possible, but said additional bruising behind the child's right ear seemed consistent with pinching.
Denver Police Officer N. Rocco-McKeel was called to the hospital to investigate and spoke to the doctor and Denver Human Services case worker Jill Perry.
The case worker informed the officer that there were three other boys, aged 4, 5 and 6, living in the family's home on 18th Avenue in Denver. Perry requested to have Officer Rocco-McKeel accompany her on a welfare check, according to the affidavit.
Bailey denied that her children have any developmental delays and stated that they speak to her with no problems, the document shows. She also stated that she did not think the apartment was unsafe or dirty.
The boys' father told investigators that he is their primary caregiver. Sperling stated that he was unemployed and stayed home with the children. None of the children were at school or in any daycare, and Sperling explained that he was "applying to home school" the 6-year-old child.
The children "have their own language" but are able to speak to him and their mother, Sperling told police.
Sperling said the feces on the floor "looks like human but it's the cats," according to the affidavit.
Sperling said he mops the floor frequently but with four boys it is hard to keep clean.
The children were placed in protective custody and all four underwent general exams at the hospital on Sept. 29. They were found to be non-verbal, malnourished, and not toilet trained.
Sperling and Bailey were each charged with four counts of felony child abuse. They remain jailed under $5,000 bonds.
Both appeared in court Tuesday to hear the charges against them.
7NEWS has confirmed Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman, Dennis Goodwin, has already started looking through the reports related to this couple.
"We did receive calls in response to the case and the news story," Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the case was well documented at DHS and he’s received a paper trail of documents more than a half inch thick.
"We're working very well together, collaborating on several recommendations, several issues so I'm pleased with their response," Goodwin said.
Goodwin told 7NEWS the allegations in the case "ring" of possible negligence but stressed they had a lot to look into and they haven’t made any decisions.