As if locking up five children, ranging in ages from 3 to 9, wasn’t bad enough, Iowa mom Jonya Smith, 29, is defending boyfriend Joshua Steinbronn’s actions.
Joshua Steinbronn, 28, is the man who stands accused of locking his girlfriend’s five children up in a bedroom, for more than 24 hours at a time, and without access to either food or bathroom facilities. The children themselves reported that they weren’t able to eat or use the restroom. In the criminal complaint against Steinbronn, deputy James Davis wrote, “The children stated they had to urinate into cups, clothing and baby diapers due to not being allowed to leave the locked room.” One girl told authorities that she had actually injured her leg when she tried to escape.
The children were found locked in the bedroom when Fayette County deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at a Westgate home, and saw the children crying and yelling for help through the bedroom window. It seems as though the deputies were called because Jonya Smith and Joshua Steinbronn were arguing so loudly.
As for the allegations against boyfriend Steinbronn, Smith says the claims are “absolutely absurd” and that they will be contested. Smith did admit that she and Steinbronn did lock the children in their rooms for naps and disciplinary reasons, but claims that they were never locked in for anywhere near 24 hours. She said of Steinbronn, “He’s not a bad person. I have five uncontrollable kids. When it’s time for a nap or something, they don’t listen to me. At least he enforces respect.”
Furthermore, Smith said she would continue to discipline her children in whatever manner she sees fit, but it seems as though Smith falls into that category of people who don’t understand the difference between “discipline” and “abuse”.
Thankfully, deputies have said they are investigating what role Jonya Smith played in the alleged mistreatment. She must have known something, though, since she was certainly at home when the deputies found the five children screaming for help out of the window in the bedroom where they were locked in.
Steinbronn left jail on bond, but he has been charged with five counts of false imprisonment as well as five counts of child endangerment. The charges of false imprisonment could each bring a jail sentence of one year a piece, and the five counts of child endangerment are considered an aggravated misdemeanor and could carry up to two years in prison for each count. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphenelia as deputies also found a glass tube and scale, both of which tested positive for methamphetamine.
The judge on the case ordered that Steinbronn, who is not the biological father of any of Smith’s children, not have any contact with them.
As for the five children, it is unclear who has them at this time — authorities claim that the Iowa Department of Human Services took the children, but Smith says she still has custody and that social workers are checking on the children daily. A DHS spokesperson has yet to comment.
[Image via the Associated Press]