Guthrie parents charged with child neglect, abuse

Thomas O'Brien, 37, and Tonya Bengtson, 36, are accused of handcuffing their 7-year-old son to keep him from taking food from their Guthrie home.
BY HANNAH COVINGTON hcovington@opubco.com Published: July 16, 2013
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— Parents accused of handcuffing their 7-year-old son at night and chaining him to the wall during the day are facing charges of child abuse and child neglect.

The child was one of six children living at 2231 N Midwest Blvd. with Thomas O'Brien, 37, and Tonya Bengtson, 36, Logan County deputies reported.

O'Brien was charged Monday in Logan County District Court with one count of child abuse and one count of child neglect, court records show. Bengtson was charged with one count of child neglect.

The Logan County sheriff received a call June 24 that a child had been handcuffed on-and-off by his parents for at least a week. Deputies arrived and found five children in the home being watched by a 16-year-old sibling while the parents were at work, Capt. Richard Stephens said.

Police were told by the children that the couple had been handcuffing their 7-year-old son behind his back in bed at night and chaining him to a wall in a room by himself during the day for some time, deputies said.

O'Brien and Bengtson told deputies their son had been having behavioral problems at school and at home after living in an abusive household. They handcuffed him in an effort to keep him from stealing and eating all the food in the house while they were gone, Stephens said.

Child-welfare workers with the state Department of Human Services also responded to the scene and launched a joint investigation with the sheriff's office.

Authorities presented the results of the investigation July 8 to the Logan County district attorney, Stephens said.


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