LONGVIEW, Wash. – The parents accused of starving their five adopted children were found guilty of mistreatment charges Tuesday in a Longview courtroom.
Jeff Trebilcock and his wife Rebecca Trebilcock were both found guilty of first and third degree criminal mistreatment. The first-degree convictions are felonies. Sentencing will take place on August 23 and could face as much as almost six years in prison.
The couple were found not guilty of several lesser misdemeanor charges.
You can read (and should to get the full impact) more to the story and outcome at the link above – including the fact that per their neighbor – four of the five children were adopted from Haiti and “rescued”:
A neighbor of the Trebilcocks defended the couple and said they being falsely accused by the 13-year-old who was fabricating the story.
“It’s just totally wrong,” said Warren Bertold. “And social services and the police need to get their act together and find out exactly what the truth is so these people can get back to their business. . . . These people are wonderful people. They’re terrific, Christian people. They have rescued these kids. Four of these kids, they rescued from Haiti.”
Standing 4′ 4″ tall and 49 lbs at 13 years old – and the doctor amazed he was still conscious – (see story below – Adopted boy takes stand on day 1) – yeah the boy fabricated that…and how sad is this statement below (bolding mine)…
During the trial, Rebecca Trebilcock and her husband broke down in tears when her lawyer showed a video of the Trebilcocks and their four adopted daughters during a state supervised visit after the couple’s arrest.
The video shows them as an affectionate family with the girls telling the Trebilcocks they love them, but one of the girls testified she didn’t know the way the Trebilcocks treated her was wrong until she experienced another way of life in foster care.
…and this article Trebilcocks found guilty on 2 counts
Whatever agency did this couples homestudy and adoption needs to completely investigate how they slid through the process. There should be questions both at the agency as well as the state licensing level on whether the current practice needs updating. Questions like: Should there be further checks and balances in adoption post placement, or before placement? Should certain choices like homeschooling, or adopting multiple children in one adoption – trigger further scrutiny, or a longer period of post adoption oversight? I sincerely hope that with the prior concerns in this state – that this verdict ensures that an honest appraisal of what flags were missed, what updates to the processes could weed out those who don’t deserve to adopt children, or at least able to rectify a problem before it gets to this point.
Previous post below…
In January of this year this post talked abuse in adoptive homes and how we needed to start talking about it. Included in that post was a report from The Office of the Family and Children’s Ombudsman of the state of Washington. On page 104 of that report the details about one of the cases closely mirror a horrific case in the news about the Trebilcock family. I also linked news articles about the case in that post.
The Trebilcock trial is happening now and reports from it are breaking my heart.
The first girl told the court Tuesday that her adopted parents would make her and her siblings eat outside and wash their clothes with cold water in a bucket.
She said that, when punished, they would be hit with a board or slapped in the face.
“If we cried, they poured water on us,” she said.
The investigation began when Rebecca Trebilcock took her then-13-year-old son to a Longview clinic. The boy weighed only 49 pounds and stood 4’4″ tall. A dietician told the court that the Trebilcocks’ 13-year-old’s weight was what a healthy 6 year old should be. The prosecution said he wasn’t the only one starved.
“I got toothpaste,” the second girl testified today.
When asked why she took the toothpaste, she said, “Because, I was hungry.”
The Trebilcocks’ defense attorneys said the kids were fed three meals a day and the kids’ stories don’t match up, but both children who testified today said they didn’t like living in their adopted home.
That three meals a day comment certainly does not match with what the doctors say in this story.
Smith said the boy was severely malnourished and near death when he was rushed to a Portland hospital last year, his body perilously cold and his heart beating so slowly one doctor was surprised he was conscious, according to Smith and witnesses who testified Monday.
The boy’s body was covered with sores from eczema, Smith said, and he had four broken ribs.
The boy, then 13, weighed only 50 pounds, half the normal weight for his age, when he and his four adopted sisters, ages 8 and 13, were placed in protective custody in March last year, according to authorities. All of the children rapidly gained weight and improved in health once they were away from the Trebilcocks, Smith said.
On Monday, Smith showed a photo of the boy sitting in his hospital bed last year, grinning awkwardly, his face sunken, a bony arm poking out from a hospital gown.
Perched on the boy’s nose were a pair of bent and taped bifocals which, Smith said, the boy was forced to wear even though he didn’t need them and they made his vision worse.
Doctors testified Monday that the boy had wasted away so badly that his condition was consistent with terminal cancer patients. Hospital staff had to give him only small portions of food at first so he wouldn’t go into shock and die from the extra calories, witnesses said.
Authorities have said the couple’s four biological children, most of them in their late teens, were well-fed.
I don’t know what the answer is but there has to be a solution – especially when it comes to children who have already suffered tremendous loss already. It’s just not right and anyone looking at a 13-year-old boy who was only 49 pounds would raise questions that need to be answered.