Christian Cunard, 42, and her husband Wayne Cunard, 46, each broke into tears in an Akron, Ohio, courtroom Monday when they learned they would be spending time behind bars for the appalling way they treated the five children in their care. But few in the courtroom were crying along with them, unless it was for the children, whose foster parents say that their biological mom treated them “like rats.”
Foster mother Sherry Teuton, who now has custody of one of Cristian Cunard’s children — Wayne Cunard was the biological father to only one of the five abused kids — said that the child suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after the abuse inflicted by the child’s own mother.
“This was on purpose,” she said. “This was hate. This was evil.”
The child had been reportedly tied to a chair with rope and left there overnight repeatedly. All five children were severely underweight when Summit County Children Services investigated the Cunard home last September because according to the charges against them, the Cunards often starved them.
The five kids ranged in age from one to 15 years old.
One of the children, a four-year-old boy, suffered from cystic fibrosis and needed to breathe through a tube. But investigators found that the Cunards were so cruel and neglectful to the children that a cockroach was allowed to crawl into the boy’s breathing tube — and when the insect died inside the tube, the Cunards didn’t bother to remove it.
While Wayne Cunard agreed to testify against his wife, Prosecutor Nik Buckmeier told Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigal Jones that the mom was the principal abuser of her own kids.
But in court, Christian Cunard broke down crying, telling Judge Jones that she was helpless to oppose her controlling husband.
“I wanted to leave so bad but I didn’t have the money,” the mom, who also has two grown children now out of her house, said. “He controlled all of us. I love my kids. I’d do anything for them. I’d die for them. I never wanted this to happen.”
But the judge wasn’t buying her sob story.
“Your conduct is appalling,” Judge Jones told Christian Cunard. “Your conduct as a mother is despicable and you stand here today and blame your choices on someone else.”
In 2007, a judge removed Christian Cunard’s children from her custody, but in 2010 an appeals court judge reversed that decision and Cunard got her children back — only to torture them for another four years.
Earlier in July, Indiana couple Steven Auker and Kimberly Robinson were charged in a similar case of neglect and abuse, accused of locking their children in a stiflingly hot room and depriving them of food and fluids.
Wayne Cunard was sentenced to one year in prison, Christian Cunard to three years. The judge said that under the sentence, neither will be allowed custody of the children ever again.
[Images: Summit County Court]