DENVER - There were no pleas entered Friday by a Denver couple charged with child abuse for allegedly starving their four sons and keeping them in an apartment full of cat feces and flies.
Instead, after conferring privately with attorneys at the bench, a judge continued the hearing for Wayne Sperling, 66 and Lorinda Bailey, 35, to next Thursday. The parents had been expected to enter pleas Friday on four counts of felony child abuse filed against them.
The couple's boys are 2, 4, 5 and 6. All four have been placed in protective care and have undergone hospital exams that found that they could only communicate in grunts, were malnourished and were not toilet trained, according to an arrest affidavit.
The couple pleaded guilty in June 2009 to misdemeanor child abuse, according to the affidavit. Police found clutter and unsanitary conditions at the home last year.
The current charges against the parents come after an investigation that began Sept. 29 when Bailey took her youngest son to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital for a cut on his forehead that she said happened after a fall.
An emergency room doctor informed authorities that the child was unwashed and smelled like cigarette smoke, prompting a welfare check by a Denver Human Services case worker. Bruising behind the child's right ear appeared consistent with pinching, the doctor said.
The welfare check revealed the squalid conditions.
A doctor with the Family Crisis Center told police that it did not appear that the children regularly visited the doctor and the 5-year-old had no records whatsoever.