A full two years after a disturbing case of apparent child neglect came to light in Rensselaer, Indiana, Jay and Tabitha Rupert, the parents of a disabled 12-year-old boy, find themselves under arrest this week, according to a report in the Greensburg Daily News.
Now, the dad says he can’t understand why his child was taken away from him and his wife or why he is being charged with a felony. At the same time, questions about why the local prosecutor’s office took two years to bring charges against Jay and Tabitha Rupert remained unanswered as of Wednesday.
— anne hillebrand (@annehillebrand2) June 28, 2016
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said only that “additional information” had been uncovered in their investigation in the two years since the child was removed from the Rupert home and that the 12-year-old “was diagnosed from birth with a non-curable brain disorder which required constant care. It was also discovered by detectives that the child had received no formal schooling either by enrollment or home school,” a statement released by the sheriff’s department said.
It was in June of 2014 when the Indiana Department of Children and Family Services removed the 12-year-old from the Rupert Home. At the time, the boy, who was diagnosed at birth as suffering from cerebral palsy, weighed only 23 pounds at the time he was taken from his parents.
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The child was diagnosed as experiencing “failure to thrive” when he was taken into the care of the DCFS. But the dad, Jay Rupert, says that the couple simply didn’t have enough money to care for their disabled child.
In addition to his emaciation, the child also showed other disorders that appeared to result from neglect by his parents, according to physicians who treated the boy at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, who described “physical ailments associated with improper care.”
“The only thing that I can add to that is the child showed signs of improper hygiene care,” Jasper County Sheriff Terry Risner told the Rensselaer Republican newspaper on Tuesday.
The boy had never been to school, and the Rupert couple failed even to attempt to homeschool the child, saying that the boy was incapable of receiving any education because he could not walk or talk and never so much as crawled as a baby.
“They said he is malnourished,” Jay Rupert, 50, told WLFI-TV News in Indiana in an interview on Tuesday, the day after he and his 41-year-old wife Tabitha were placed under arrest. “And they’ve been feeding him 24/7 with a feeding tube and he’s gained over 22 pounds in the last two years.”
Rupert also told the TV station that the boy had never been able to gain weight, but that he was not being starved.
“He was eating oatmeal and stuff like that,” the dad claimed.
As to why the parents failed to educate the boy, placing him in a special needs program or any similar program, Jasper said that they simply wanted to keep the situation quiet.
“My wife made a decision that she didn’t want him to be going to school with this thing,” Jay Rupert told the WLFI interviewer. “She didn’t want anyone to say anything about it.”
The following video details a study at Harvard University showing that the results of simple neglect by parents can just as damaging in the long term to children as actual, physical abuse.
Jay and Tabitha Rupert now face counts of felony child neglect as well as neglect of mandatory school attendance for a child. The boy is now “thriving and is living in much better circumstances,” according to the Jasper County Sheriff.
[Images via Jasper County Sheriff’s Office]