BUTTE — A former Montana couple has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for abusing their 12-year-old adopted son who prosecutors said was handcuffed to a bed in a locked bedroom or cuffed by his hands and feet to a milk crate in a bathtub, sometimes overnight.
District Judge Kurt Krueger in Butte chastized Jonathan James Hay and Debra Ann Hay on Monday, saying they had no consideration for the boy or the effect their abuse would have on his life.
“I find that your conduct is so, so extreme and so — no consideration at all to your minor child, no consideration to the major affects you were having on his life,” Krueger said.
Each defendant pleaded guilty in October to one count of assaulting a minor and two counts of criminal endangerment. Krueger sentenced them to 25 years in prison with 12 suspended.
The boy was one of six foster children adopted by the Hays’ who lived in Butte when the charges were filed in 2018. Prosecutors say the Hays’ also put tape over the boy’s mouth, taped socks to his hands to prevent him from trying to pick the locks and often fed him only oats and collard greens. The children were all removed from their care.
During the sentencing hearing, Debra Hay, 46, said she had done things “against my faith and character,” and Jonathan Hay, 48, said it broke his heart to look back on the way he treated the boy.
Defense attorneys sought a 12-year deferred sentence, saying the couple suffered from anxiety, had no prior criminal records and were at low risk to re-offend.
“This wasn’t a mistake,” chief prosecutor Ann Shea countered. “They did this night after night after night to a 12-year-old child. They could have easily been charged with 30 counts of assault on a minor.”
Tim Dick, a Butte attorney appointed as a special guardian to the boy, said the child will suffer for a long time.
“He needs to know that until adulthood, they are in jail,” Dick said.
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