By The Associated Press
Bail for a California mother of 10 children who officials say suffered long-term abuse was set at nearly $500,000 after the judge said she remains a danger to the kids.
Prosecutors charged Ina Rogers, 31, on May 16 in Solano Superior Court with nine counts of felony child abuse, saying that she caused the children to be in a situation likely to produce great bodily injury and death.
Her husband, Jonathan Allen, faces multiple charges of torture and felony child abuse. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in Solano County Jail on $5.2 million bail.
Rogers did not enter a plea and she did not make a statement.
“Instead of taking care of them she has abused them, if not assisting her husband in torture,” said Veronica Juarez, Solano County’s deputy district attorney.
Judge William J. Pendergast agreed with the deputy district attorney’s request to set bail at $495,000, saying that “she may not be a danger to the public at large, but these charges make clear she is a danger to the children.”
Rogers was taken into custody after the hearing. Her court-appointed attorney, Barry Newman, declined comment.
Rogers and Allen have said the allegations are false.
It’s still unclear whether any California government agencies had an opportunity to intervene in the years authorities claim the children were abused inside their home in suburban Fairfield, about 46 miles northeast of San Francisco. Their mother claimed social services interviewed the kids three years ago but nothing came of the visit.
Rogers told reporters that she had one prior interaction with child welfare officials when her mother “had mentioned something” that prompted a home visit. Officials took pictures of the children and interviewed them individually, she said.
“Nothing was founded, my kids were placed back with me,” she said.
Solano County’s Child Welfare Services department officials did not immediately respond to requests Tuesday for details about the visit, or information about other interactions they may have had with members of the household.
Sheriff’s and prosecutors say the children were rescued from a filthy house in March and had suffered puncture wounds, burns, bruising and injuries consistent with being shot with a pellet gun. Sharon Henry, the county’s chief deputy district attorney, said they were tortured “for sadistic purposes.”
Allen, 29, was arrested Friday and faces seven counts of torture and nine counts of felony child abuse. Allen denied the allegations in an interview with KCRA-TV on Tuesday, declaring “I am not an animal.”
“The truth is that it is a functioning household,” he said. “Everyone helped everyone. It was a complete circle — the older ones helped the little ones.”
Questions remain as to how the children and the alleged abuse went undetected for years until March 31, when police responding to a missing juvenile report entered the house.
They found a home filled with rotted food and human and animal waste, Fairfield Lt. Greg Hurlbut said. Police removed the children, ages 4 months to 12 years, and arrested Rogers on suspicion of neglect. She was released after posting $10,000 bail.
Stories about the alleged abuse came out gradually in interviews with the children over the past six weeks and eight of the children told professionals about incidents dating back several years, authorities said.
Rogers says she home-schooled the children, but the Fairfield home was not registered as a private school and neither were three prior addresses in Fairfield and Vallejo, according to the California Department of Education.
California law requires children to be enrolled in public school unless they meet specific exemptions, such as documented attendance at a private school. Parents who teach their own children can register as a private school, but the state does not approve, monitor or inspect them.
Rogers said she previously enrolled her two oldest children in school but decided to teach them herself because she didn’t think they were getting enough attention. She said her daughter failed to get on the school bus on her first day of kindergarten and was later found talking to a stranger and his dog at the school, she said.
“They were bullied and the teachers weren’t helping me with their education,” Rogers said. “So I said, ‘OK how am I going to do this with all these kids? I can’t do that.’ So I was like, ‘I’m the only one who cares enough’ so I started to homeschool them.”
At least one person suspected abuse: The children’s maternal grandmother. She called Allen a monster.
“He would take the baby and slap it in the face and put duct tape on the baby’s mouth to make it shut up,” Wanda Rogers told KNTV in San Francisco.
Rogers said the children slept in one bedroom because they were close. The home’s other rooms were used as a master bedroom, playroom and meditation room.
Rogers said she works as an EKG technician at a heart monitoring company and her husband is a tattoo artist.