DALLAS, Ga. (AP) — A mother and stepfather who confined their teenage son to a bedroom for years with little food were each sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to cruelty to children and false imprisonment charges.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Paul and Sheila Comer each will also serve 15 years on probation, were ordered not to have any unsupervised contact with minors and to forfeit all their assets, which will be put in a trust for their children, said Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan.
Their son, 18-year-old Mitch Comer, was found wandering a Los Angeles bus station on Sept. 11 and told police he had suffered years of abuse.
The plea agreement allowed the county to avoid the expense of a trial and kept prosecutors from having to call Mitch Comer and two younger Comer children as witnesses "to relive what was a pretty horrendous time in their lives," Donovan said.
Lawyers for Paul and Sheila Comer did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.
Mitch Comer stood 5-foot-1 and weighed 87 pounds when he raised the suspicion of a guard at the bus station. He told police his stepfather put him on a bus on his 18th birthday with a few hundred dollars cash and a list of homeless shelters.
He told detectives he was subjected to years of abuse after being taken out of school in eighth grade, confined to a bathroom and bedroom in their home in Dallas, Ga., and shielded from sunlight for at least two years.
Investigators testified at a hearing in October that the Comers sometimes made the teen kneel on the floor with his forehead against a wall, his hands behind his head and his feet lifted off the ground. Mitch Comer told investigators he sometimes had to remain in that position for six to eight hours, while Paul Comer said it was only 40 minutes at a time.
During the October hearing, a detective testified that the Comers conceded the teen had been confined to the room as punishment. Paul Comer also told investigators they sent Mitch Comer to Los Angeles because he wanted to be an actor.
The Comers' lawyers in October disputed many of the allegations against their clients and said at the time that there was another side to the story that would come out at trial. With the plea, though, there won't be a trial.