The boy who gained international attention after he was found handcuffed to his porch in Union County with a dead chicken tied around his neck is now describing the abuse.
He was 11 when authorities found him in November 2013 at the Monroe-area home of former county social services supervisor Wanda Sue Larson and her longtime boyfriend, Dorian Harper. Larson was legal guardian of the boy.
In the spring, the couple reached separate plea deals and admitted guilt to abuse charges.
Prosecutors have described Harper as the perpetrator of most of the abuse, and while Larson was not home for much of the abuse she did not seek medical attention for the boy.
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The boy, now 13, told WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, that he wished he could have testified against Larson.
“She abused me too, and she knew that Dorian was abusing me too but she didn’t stop it,” the boy told WBTV, the Observer’s news partner. “I want to do whatever it takes to get her back in jail...’Cause she deserves to be in jail for a long, long time.”
Under the plea deal, Larson was sentenced to up to 17 months in jail. After receiving credit for time served, she was released a week after reaching the deal and is on probation for 5 1/2 years. Harper was sentenced to up to 10 1/2 years in prison.
During Harper’s sentencing, the boy abruptly left the courtroom in tears; a prosecutor said the boy was too upset to listen any longer.
District Attorney Trey Robison has said the main reason he agreed to the plea deals was a strong desire not to re-victimize the boy by forcing him to testify.
On Wednesday, Robison said, “Decisions were made based on the information we had at the time the trial was going on.” He declined to further comment on the boy’s statements.
The boy is now back with his biological mother, Maria Harris. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The family plans to file a civil lawsuit this year against Union County DSS, Harper and Larson, said Jeff Gerber, founder of the Justice For All Coalition, which advocates for laws protecting children.
Gerber said he is helping the family prepare the suit, and that the family hopes to get money to help pay for such needs as therapy and education for the boy.
During Harper’s sentencing, prosecutors detailed his abuse of the boy that included chaining him to a steel railroad track at night, twisting his pinkie finger with pliers and burning his face near his eye with electrical wire “to teach him a lesson.”
The boy told WBTV that Larson allegedly whipped him with a belt and once used wire cutters to pinch his fingers.
Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said Wednesday his investigators said all the claims regarding the boy’s finger being pinched involved Harper, but that both had allegedly whipped the boy.
Larson could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The attorney that represented her during the plea deal, Bob Leas, also could not be reached for comment.
Four other children, ages 7 to 14, lived with Harper and Larson at the time of their arrest and had been adopted by Larson. All five children were removed from the home.
None of the charges against Harper and Larson involved abuse of the other children.
The boy described a horrific home life to WBTV that was similar to what was outlined in court proceedings: He said he was locked in a filthy room at night, chained to a railroad track and was allowed to bathe only when they were going somewhere.
He also told WBTV about a nightmare he had, “that Wanda Sue came and took me. I wasn’t able to find my parents again.”
And the boy recalled for WBTV the moment a sheriff’s deputy, who was investigating an unrelated report, happened upon the boy chained to the porch with the chicken around his neck.
“He said, ‘Why are you handcuffed to the porch?’ And I said ‘because they didn’t want me to run away,’” the boy told WBTV.