By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Police in Arizona have arrested a couple on suspicion of repeatedly abusing two of their adopted daughters, punishing them with beatings and leaving the girls severely malnourished, authorities said on Friday.
Johann Glenn Jorg, 61, and Kimery Lynn Jorg, 54, were taken into custody on Thursday in Peoria, a northern suburb of Phoenix, on suspicion of four counts each of felony child abuse involving two daughters, ages 11 and 13, court records show.
Police spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto said the elder girl remained in a local hospital due to her emaciated condition, and that the five-foot-tall (1.52-meter) teen had weighed just 60 pounds (27 kg) upon admission.
Police said the 13-year-old was sometimes forced to live in a tent in the couple's backyard while naked or wearing a diaper, and that both girls were beaten with a wooden paddle.
The children were also forced to run in the heat for an hour each day, police said, as well as write down, recite and explain Bible phrases. If they made mistakes, they had to run further.
"This is an absolute tragedy that the girls were put in this situation by people who swore that they would take care of them," said Jacinto, adding that they had also been victims of abuse before being adopted by the couple about five years ago.
Jacinto said police were alerted by child welfare workers who found the two girls in bad condition during a May 30 visit to their home. The couples' two other adopted daughters – an eight-year-old and a seven-year-old – were also removed from the property, the spokeswoman said.
According to court records, the Jorgs told police that the girls, who were home-schooled, had been fairly punished for lying and stealing.
"She (Kimery) described all of her disciplinary measures as attempts to train the girls how to be 'loving and nurturing,'" the records said.
The couple remains in custody with bond set at $100,000 each. It was not clear on Friday if they had an attorney.
The allegations were a grim reminder of another high-profile abuse case involving adopted children in which a U.S. adoptive mother in Washington state was accused of starving her 13-year-old Ethiopian-born daughter, Hana, and locking her outside in the cold, where she died of exposure in 2011.
(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)