Franklin Park Couple Face New Charges in Child-Abuse Case

Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Douglas Barbour and his wife, Kristen Barbour, remain free on bond in case involving two adopted children from Ethiopia.

A Franklin Park couple accused of physically abusing and starving two children they adopted from Ethiopia in March now face additional charges. 

Prosecutors amended charges today against , at a preliminary hearing scheduled before District Judge Robert Ford in Leetsdale.

As a result of the new charges, defense attorneys asked that the preliminary hearing for the couple again be postponed. A new court date is set for Jan. 18. 

Among the new charges filed was an additional count of aggravated assault related to the Barbour's 6-year-old adopted son. The charge is based on allegations that the couple withheld food from the child, said Douglas Barbour's defense attorney, Charles Porter.

Porter and Robert Stewart, the attorney representing Kristen Barbour, said it makes no sense that the couple would adopt and abuse two children from Ethiopia, but not abuse their biological children. They say the Barbours are upset and frustrated. 

"You can imagine it's been very difficult on them," Porter said.

Douglas Barbour, a Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General, has been suspended from his state job without pay since he and his wife were arrested Oct. 4. He now faces two counts each of simple assault, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.

His wife, Kristen Barbour, is also now charged with two counts each of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault, and one count of simple assault. The Barbours previously were charged with aggravated assault solely in relation to allegations of abuse of their 1-year-old adopted daughter. 

Defense attorneys today said there was no indication when they spoke to prosecutors last week that prosecutors would amend the charges "at the 11th hour." The defense agreed to seek a continuance to properly prepare for the new charges. 

"We obviously dispute the allegations," Porter said. 

This is the third time the hearing has been postponed for the Barbours, who remain free on bond.

According to the criminal complaint, the Barbours are accused of starving their adopted 6-year-old son and leaving him with lesions from being kept in urine-soaked clothing for long periods of time. 

Porter said the older child had serious issues that the parents tried to deal with to the best of their abilities. Stewart said the boy was defecating in his bed and putting his feces under the bed, so the mattress was placed on the floor.

Porter said Kristen Barbour maintained a blog and seemed to consistently be reaching out for help with the family's situation. Douglas Barbour spent most of his time at work, Porter said, adding that reports indicating the parents gave the boy a barren room with a mattress is "simply not true." 

Dr. Rachel Berger at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC recommended that the boy be permitted no contact with the Barbours. She also determined that the 18-month-old adopted girl not be returned to the Barbours' home, police said in the complaint. 

The girl will likely remain permanently blind in one eye and paralyzed after suffering abusive head trauma, according to the criminal complaint. A doctor determined she had suffered multiple hemorrhages, fractures and injuries to both eyes and had been a victim of physical abuse, including abusive head trauma, according to the complaint.

In October, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ruled that the Barbours would be permitted supervised visitation with their two biological children, ages 2 and 4, pending approval of the judge who is presiding over the matter in Family Court, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported.

Attorneys said the Barbours have had supervised visits with their biological children since their arrests, but the attorneys couldn't say if the Barbours have seen their adopted children. The matter of supervision is still pending in the courts.

Ta'Lesha Pope November 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM
That is just sick...the little girl has trauma head...was that done by the hands of the Barbours?
Susan Weston November 21, 2012 at 09:49 AM
Please don't assume anything in this case. Don't assume it was abuse and don't assume it wasn't. It is easy to accuse and easy to be accused of harming children. Doctors "diagnose" abusive head trauma, formerly called Shaken Baby Syndrome, because they believe it to be much more common than alternate causes of the symptoms. As one attorney said, "This is a crime so horrendous that not even innocence is a defense." Let the parties sort this case out through the legal system, I beg you! No one reading this article or ANY news articles has all the facts needed to reach a just conclusion.
Jeremy Praay November 21, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Agreeing with Susan. Since the children are adopted from Ethiopia, it is quite unlikely that anyone has a complete understanding of their prior medical and social conditions. There are MANY conditions that can mimic abuse, and the fact that the parents were attempting to reach out seems to prove that this was an on-going problem, and makes abuse less likely as an explanation. As for the bleeding on the brain in the 18 month-old, there are many conditions which can cause this, most notably being bleeding disorders and stroke. Those two conditions are frequently misdiagnosed as abusive head trauma. I do not know if this couple is innocent, but I would suggest that there is a strong possibility.
Ta'Lesha Pope November 22, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Im sorry but I believe I asked a simple question...if you both would like to re-read my comment I asked IF THE TRAUMA WAS DONE BY THE BARBOURS HANDS. I am jumping to conclusions. First of all, the whole situation IS SICK. I Dont know if they abused those children or not. These are the last days people. The crime rate is off the charts, and anyone is capable of anything. So before you decide to tell anything, understand my words.
Ta'Lesha Pope November 22, 2012 at 02:43 AM
And I meant to say I am NOT jumping to conclusions. I read an article and reponded. Its not that serious because I Dont abuse my children and Thats all matters to me!


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