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A white couple made headlines last year after they adopted two African children only to neglect, starve and force them to live in deplorable conditions. One year later, the pair has escaped any jail time. Why are we not surprised?

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Kenny and Kelly Fry were arrested last summer after two 8- and 9-year-old children they adopted from Ghana were rescued outside their home in Osceola, Iowa. According to Metro, a neighbor heard the kids crying after being locked outside the home in 15-degree weather. When they were returned to the Fry home, they were forced to spend the whole day in their rooms. When they made social services workers aware of this, the kids told them how there was an alarm on their room that would go off if they left and for punishment, they would be forced to do push-ups and squats.

Doctors also noticed that the children were malnourished with one child’s growth stunted because of the neglect. The Fry’s were arrested months later after an investigation found that the children lived in a room separate from the other five children in the house. The only furnishings the room had were a plastic mat, a blanket and a bucket both of them were expected to use as a toilet.

The couple claimed they had to separate the children because they had been defecating and urinating all over the house and sneaking out to steal food. But when the children were removed from the home and placed with Fry family members, they said the children did not exhibit the behavior they described. 

The investigation also found that the children were forced to eat oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner while the couples’ other five children had no dietary or room restrictions.

Charged with neglect or abandonment as well as child endangerment causing great bodily harm, the couple took a plea deal in May admitting to two counts of child endangerment. And on Thursday, a judge gave the Fry’s a slap on the wrist by sentencing the two to two years probation, 100 hours of community service and $12,000 fine. 

According to WHO-TV, an Iowa judge determined that the child neglecters were taking steps to right their wrongs by attending counseling and helping the children’s placement in transitional homes, and said sentencing needed to focus on rehabilitation and opportunities for growth. 

The charges would also be wiped from their records once they complete their sentence, their records would be wiped clean, which would leave the possibility they could do this to other Black children. 

WHO reported that the state says the two adopted children are “thriving and sometimes ask to be reunited with the defendants.”

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