Jury deliberations enter Day 5 at trial of parents charged with child abuse

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Jury deliberations at the trial of two parents charged with sexually and physically abusing their children entered their fifth full day on Tuesday.

The father, 57, and the mother, 54, went on trial beginning nine weeks ago and were originally charged with 47 counts including incest, sexual assault, aggravated assault and forcible confinement.

At the end of the Crown’s case, the indictment was reduced to 41 charges. At the time of Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney’s final instructions to the jury on Thursday, the jury was asked to decide on 37 counts.

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The jury retired to begin its discussions Thursday evening. They remained sequestered straight through the weekend and Monday. Word came Monday evening that the jurors would be continuing their deliberations on Tuesday.

It was a shocking and emotional trial. Four of the couple’s children, all of whom are now young adults, gave gripping testimony and described being beaten, tied up, locked in sheds, basement and cupboards, force-fed dish soap and hot sauce, and scalded with hot water.

They also spoke of horrific acts of sexual violence at the hands of both parents, and, in the case of two women, with strangers.

Their identities are protected by court order.

Both parents testified and denied most of the allegations. The mother did admit to giving the children hot sauce, a discipline technique she said she read about.

The dates of the events ran from 2003 to 2020.

To the outside world, the family appeared to be a typical, middle-class, religious family. They lived in several Ontario cities, including London.

Deliberations are set to continue on Tuesday.

jsims@postmedia.com

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