Two Watertown residents are facing charges after police said they confined their adopted children to the bathroom as a means of punishment.
Police arrested 45-year-old George Barnes, and his wife 47-year-old Nancie Barnes on Thursday. Watertown fire officials also confirmed that George Barnes is a lieutenant with the fire department.
The arrests stem from an investigation into alleged disciplinary actions taken in the home against five children who the couple adopted.
The investigation reveals that each of the five children were punished for various reasons, and as part of the punishment, they were confined to the bathroom of the home for extended periods of time.
The children range in ages from 9 to 18 years old, and all said they were isolated in the bathroom on separate occasions, and while they were in the bathroom, they had to stand up and read.
Police said “the children confined to the bathroom were allowed to go to school and could leave the bathroom to sleep but had to return the next morning or afternoon, depending on if there was school.”
One of the child’s confinement began in September 2015, and lasted up until the police investigation began on Dec. 15.
At that time, the Department of Children and Families temporarily removed the children from the home.
Police said during confinement in the bathroom, baby monitors were used to see the child’s behavior and ensure they were standing when they were supposed to be.
Meals were brought to the child in confinement.
Police said one of the children told a school counselor about the alleged abuse last month.
Robert Palmer said he has been a neighbor for two decades, and considers them close friends, and he even serves on the volunteer fire department with George. He said he can't believe the charges are true.
"They're good-hearted people, so I don't really know. They're family people," Palmer said.
Watertown Fire Chief Larry Black said George Barnes is still an active member of the department.
Both Barnes were charged with two counts of Cruelty to Persons, second-degree unlawful restraint, and Risk of Injury to a Minor.
They were both held on a $35,000 bond. They are expected to appear in court on Friday.
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