Tags: Mother | Pleads | Guilty | Abusing | Closet | Girl

Mother Pleads Guilty to Abusing Closet Girl

Thursday, 24 January 2002 12:00 AM

Barbara Atkinson, 30, changed her plea after the judge ruled her other children could testify in open court in front of their mother.

The jury immediately began hearing testimony in the punishment phase of the trial on a charge of injury to a child with serious bodily injury. She could receive up to life in prison.

In the first two days of the trial, neighbors, child protection officers and police testified about the discovery of the girl June 11 at the family's home in Hutchins, south of Dallas.

The girl, who has not been identified, weighed only 25 pounds and stood 3 feet tall when she was found in the locked closet. A doctor testified that she should have weighed 50 to 60 pounds and stood about 4 feet tall at 8 years of age.

Neighbor Jeanie Rivers, who discovered the girl, said she could not believe what she saw.

"She was so frail and with no color," she said. "Her arms appeared to be no bigger than an inch wide."

The girl was discovered after her stepfather, Kenneth Atkinson, 34, told Rivers about "Barbie's secret." Atkinson is charged with serious bodily injury to a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child. He will be tried later and could also face life in prison.

A doctor who treated the girl at Children's Medical Center of Dallas said the child's malnutrition was similar to that of Holocaust victims and children who have lived through famine.

The girl is now living with an east Texas couple who had tried to adopt her shortly after she was born but were prevented because of a legal technicality. Five other children who lived with the Atkinsons have been placed in foster homes.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Barbara Atkinson, 30, changed her plea after the judge ruled her other children could testify in open court in front of their mother. The jury immediately began hearing testimony in the punishment phase of the trial on a charge of injury to a child with serious bodily...
Mother,Pleads,Guilty,Abusing,Closet,Girl
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2002-00-24
Thursday, 24 January 2002 12:00 AM
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