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Three adults are accused of holding four young children prisoner in their southern Ohio home, tying them with ropes and chains, and torturing them physically and sexually, deputies said Wednesday.
Law enforcement said they first learned about the allegations on Jan. 30, when a teacher with the children’s online learning school said one of them emailed her to call 911.
The suspects — the children’s mother, stepfather and grandmother — were each charged with three counts of child endangerment, the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. The 44-year-old stepfather also was charged with two counts of rape.
While the sheriff’s office identified the suspects, NBC News isn’t naming them in order to protect the children’s identities.
An 8-year-old boy and his three sisters, ages 2, 9, and 11, lived inside the Wheelersburg home and were being homeschooled via a computer, deputies said.
It was with that computer one of the children emailed the teacher to alert police. A deputy, along with county children’s services, visited the home and interviewed the siblings.
“The children stated that they had been tied with ropes and chains to their beds for weeks at a time, sometimes longer (and were) only untied to do school work on the computer,” the sheriff’s department said.
The children claimed they were naked when they were smacked with belts and paddles, and complained about being hungry. The 9- and 11-year-old also said they were sexually abused.
Police said evidence of the alleged abuse was apparent.
The stepfather is being held on $100,000 bond, while the children’s mother and grandmother are each being held on $150,000 bond.
Detectives are also searching for a fourth person who fled the residence during the investigation.