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Denver couple charged with abuse after four sons found in squalor

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - The parents of four young boys who were found at a squalid Denver home suffering from malnourishment and unable to communicate except by grunts were facing multiple counts of felony child abuse, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Wayne Sperling, 66, and Lorinda Bailey, 35, were taken into custody last week after a search of the couple's apartment found the boys, aged 2, 4, 5 and 6, living in an apartment amid cat feces and swarming flies, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office.

Police were alerted to the situation after Bailey took the two-year-old to an emergency room to be treated for a head laceration, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed with the court by Denver police.

The treating physician noted that the boy was filthy, "non-verbal" and reeked of cigarette smoke. Police made a welfare check on the couple's east Denver apartment after learning that there were three other boys in the household.

When police arrived at the home, they contacted Sperling who was there with the three other boys. Police said they found the boys making "infant-like noises" and none had been toilet trained, the affidavit said.

Police said they found two inches of cat feces under a bed in the apartment and that the smell of cat feces and urine was overwhelming. Sperling told police that there were six or seven cats living in the apartment, but the felines would not use the litter box, according to the affidavit.

An officer also thought he detected the odor of a decomposing animal, but could not locate the source.

Sperling told police that he was unemployed and that he was "applying to home school" the oldest boy, but that none of his sons was in day care or attended school.

"Sperling stated the children have their own language and grunt at each other but were able to speak to him and Bailey," the affidavit said.

Bailey also told police that she did not think the apartment "was that bad" and that it was not unsafe or dirty, according to the affidavit.

The boys were taken into protective custody, and a physician who examined them told investigators that all of them had "delayed verbal skills," had not had regular medical check-ups or up-to-date immunizations, were not toilet trained, and were suffering from malnutrition.

Sperling and Bailey both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse in 2009, police said. Both are being held on $5,000 bonds.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Vicki Allen)

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