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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 1/18/2004

The nightmare in Akron

Alice Jenkins and Mary Rowles are going away for a long, long time. But not nearly long enough.

The two women were sentenced last week in Summit County Common Pleas Court to 30 years in prison for their sadistic treatment of Rowles' six children.

What these monsters did, especially to the five boys, is almost beyond belief.

According to testimony, the boys were beaten, locked in a closet, denied food, and forced to eat animal waste and lick a dirty toilet bowl.

The eldest child, now 15, said at the sentencing that his so-called mother and her live-in companion would beat them on Christmas and then give them presents, only to destroy the gifts a few days later.

In previous testimony, taken after police in April found three of the severely malnourished boys walking the streets after they had escaped from the closet and dropped from a second-floor roof, the children told of having been hit with a hammer, whipped with a belt, kicked in the groin, and stabbed with a fork.

The two women initially pleaded guilty to 55 counts but later attempted to withdraw their pleas. Judge Patricia Cosgrove denied that request last week, and lawyers for the defendants are appealing, claiming that new evidence that shows the children, who were fathered by four men, suffer from a rare eating order.

The prosecution, however, points to the fact that one boy, who is 10 and appears to have borne the brunt of what it called "hate crimes, motivated by gender and racial bias," weighed only 41 pounds in April but now weighs more than 70 pounds.

Judge Cosgrove called the defendants, who laughed and talked before the hearing began, "the coldest, most unfeeling, least empathetic criminals I have ever seen."

It is difficult to accept that anyone could treat children the way these two women did unless there were some underlying cause such as a background of abuse or mental illness. In this case, however, we are inclined not to care.

Our only regret is that Judge Cosgrove did not, as was apparently within her power, impose longer sentences, and our fervent hope is that these poor excuses for human beings are forced to spend every day of the 30 years they did get behind bars.

During the sentencing, the eldest boy, who could not even bear to look at them, called his mother and her companion "hurtful people" and said "I don't want to see either of you ever again."

Neither do the rest of us.



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