Wanda Sue Larson was released from Union County Jail Wednesday following last week’s plea deal in an abuse case that began in 2013 when a boy in her care was found shackled to her porch with a dead chicken around his neck.
Larson, a former county child protective services supervisor, was sentenced to up to 17 months in jail. She was arrested after the boy was discovered by chance by a sheriff’s deputy in November 2013. She received credit for the 16 1/2 months she spent in jail.
Larson, 58, was being released to her probation officer to get her set up for that system, Sheriff Eddie Cathey said. As part of her sentence, Larson will be on probation for 5 1/2 years.
TV stations showed Larson in a car departing the jail, then heading to the probation office.
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Larson was the 11-year-old boy’s legal guardian. While she is under court jurisdiction, she is allowed no contact with him or the four other children she had adopted who were under her care.
Under the deal, Larson pleaded guilty to two felony and two misdemeanor abuse-related charges that carried a maximum penalty of 37 months. She was sentenced to less than half that.
A local activist, upset over the length of the sentence, led a courthouse protest over the weekend. But prosecutors said the main reason they agreed to the deal was to avoid re-victimizing the children in the case by having them testify.
Larson’s co-defendant in the case, long-time live-in boyfriend Dorian Harper, also reached a plea deal last month.
Harper was sentenced to a minimum of six years and three months, with a maximum of 10 1/2 years in prison.
Harper, a former emergency room nurse, had admitted to abusing the boy.
The abuse detailed in court included chaining the boy to a steel railroad track at night, twisting his pinkie finger with pliers and burning his face near his eye with electrical wires “to teach him a lesson.”
Much of the abuse happened when Larson was not home, prosecutors said, but she knew about it, failed to stop it and did not get the boy the medical attention he needed.