JAY — A Delaware County woman who bragged about being honored by the state for her work as a foster parent was charged Friday with multiple counts of child abuse.
Included in the charges are accusations that the woman failed to seek medical attention after her daughters were bitten repeatedly by pet monkeys.
Deidre Anne Matthews, 46, of Jay, is charged in Delaware County District Court with three counts of child abuse by injury, child endangerment and child neglect.
Matthews told Delaware County sheriff’s deputies during their investigation that her family was chosen by DHS in 2008 as Adoptive Family of the Year, sheriff’s officials said.
According to a court affidavit, Matthews mobile home was covered in filth, she was overly medicated and she depended on her eldest children to care for her younger children and a variety of exotic animals.
State Department of Human Services spokeswoman Sheree Powell said agency officials have not seen the charges “and are waiting to view the documents.”
The children are eight girls ranging in age from 4 to 17 and a 10-year-old boy, court records show.
Delaware County deputies removed the 14-year-old girl from the home after DHS failed to remove the teenager after investigating abuse allegations, the affidavit states. The children’s father, Jerry Matthews, took the rest of the children from the residence with DHS’ approval.
The two oldest children were taking care of the younger children — cooking, cleaning and doing laundry and bathing, dressing and getting the younger children ready for school.
They also fed and took care of numerous animals, the affidavit states.
Deputies first learned of problems at the house when they were called to the residence in late February to investigate allegations that the 14-year-old was being repeatedly physically assaulted by a sibling and that Diedre Matthews was so heavily medicated she couldn’t care for the children.
The mobile home was full of garbage and had animal feces ground into the carpet, according to the affidavit.
Cockroaches were seen in and around rotting food that was either on the floor or on the countertop.
Diedre Matthews “was extremely unsteady on her feet,” and her “pupils were dilated and her eyes were glassy,” the affidavit states. One daughter told investigators she was “concerned about Matthews’ excessive prescription drug use,” telling authorities Diedre Matthews had a monthly prescription for 360 10-mg hydrocodone tablets.
The 14-year-old victim told authorities she was attacked and bitten twice by a 3 1/2-foot spider monkey, the affidavit states.
Another sibling said she also had been bitten.
One girl told authorities they “never went to the doctor, and the monkey bite was not reported” and that Diedre Matthews sewed up the monkey bite wound with a needle and thread and admonished the teens not to tell anyone, according to the affidavit.
At one time there were 20 primates, including spider monkeys, lemurs and marmosets, at the residence.
Previously the couple housed 20 miniature horses, alpacas, numerous dogs, cats, goats, cattle, a buffalo, a South African raccoon, a North American raccoon that had its fangs removed and was declawed, 15 to 20 birds, and an assortment of other animals, the affidavit states.
Representatives from the Delaware County sheriff’s office said Matthews was not in custody Friday. Her bail is set at $100,000.