Virginia Couple Sentenced On Felony Child Abuse Charges

Hayes, VA – The Inquisitr previously reported on the arrest of Brian and Shannon Gore, a Virginia couple who were taken into custody on felony child abuse charges after authorities discovered their young daughter confined to a makeshift cage – composed of an upside-down crib, boards, and boxes – inside the family trailer on April 28, 2011.

The couple, Brian, 31, and Shannon, who will be 27 later this month, pled out on an Alford plea to aggravated malicious wounding in lieu of facing trial on felony child abuse.

An Alford plea means the couple did not openly accept culpability, but acknowledged there was enough evidence for a conviction. They have since been awaiting sentencing.

Monday, Gloucester Circuit Judge R. Bruce Long levied a 30 year prison term on each party, comparing the abuse to that of the worst Holocaustic horrors inflicted in Nazi-run concentration camps. “When I first saw that picture,” referencing photos presented into evidence – one when the child was 3 and appeared healthy and happy, the other taken a few years later on the day of discovery, “the words that came to my mind were Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka.”

Long sentenced the Gores to the maximum 10 years in prison on child abuse convictions and the minimum 20 years in prison on convictions of aggravated malicious wounding.

They had faced life in prison. Commonwealth’s Attorney Holly Smith had asked Long to sentence the Gores to the maximum sentences of life in prison, arguing the couple’s daughter would forever be stunted due to the abuse and neglect.

Gloucester County Police had originally come to the Gore residence on an unrelated criminal inquiry. There they found a 6-year-old (now 8) girl, utterly emaciated at 16-pounds, filthy, and incapable of fully extending her legs even when she was removed from the cage.

An average child of the same age should weigh nearly three times that. The girl was so starved that she ate pieces of her own flaking skin, and was naked and covered in feces.

Investigators believed the unidentified child had lived that way her whole life up to that point, but the Gore’s protested, stating it had only been a couple years – as though it somehow made it better. The Gore’s daughter had been born in the home, did not have any official documentation, and had never been seen by a physician.

Mr. Gore made claims the girl suffered from Down syndrome and cerebral palsy but was unable to verify that given the aforementioned lack of medical records.

A healthy, unharmed 1-month-old boy was also in the home along with the remains of a third child, born in 2007 who died at infancy, allegedly from breathing problems based on the father’s account.

Due to the advanced degree of decomposition, the medical examiner was incapable of determining the actual cause of death of the infant found buried beneath a backyard shed. Thus, the couple was not charged with murder.

What punishment do you think they should have received? Do you think 30 years in prison is adequate?