Couple arrested for allegedly locking child in bathroom for months

George and Nancie Barnes (Photos provided by the Watertown Police Dept.)


WATERTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — A Watertown couple has been arrested after police say they locked their adopted children in the bathroom as punishment.

“A child disclosed to our school liaison officer abuse at the house,” said Watertown police detective, Mark Conway.

On Thursday, Watertown police have arrested 45-year-old George Barnes and 47-year-old Nancie Barnes of Burton Street in Watertown. Police began investigating the couple when a school liaison officer informed them of abuse of the couple’s five adopted children.

The investigation showed that each of the five children were locked in the home’s bathroom for extended periods of time as a punishment. Police say the children’s ages range from nine to 18-years-old. While the children were isolated in the bathroom, police say the children had to stand up and read. Baby monitors were placed in the bathroom to make sure the children were doing what they were told to do and their meals were brought to them.

Police say the children were allowed to go to school and could leave the bathroom to sleep, but had to return to the bathroom the next morning or afternoon, depending on their school schedule.

One child’s confinement began in September 2015 and lasted three months, until police began their investigation in December. At that time, DCF removed the children from the home.

In a statement released Friday, the Department of Children and Families say

The parents who were arrested today were licensed by the Department and accordingly received criminal and child welfare background checks prior to obtaining their license and caring for the children. We have high expectations for the families who foster and adopt children from state care, and those expectations are met in in all but the rarest of instances. If the allegations are true, the treatment of the children is completely unacceptable and a violation of the trust we place in foster and adoptive families.

The children were removed from the home when we received information about this treatment a number of weeks ago, and they are receiving services to help them heal from their experiences.

George and Nancie Barnes have both been charged with two counts of cruelty to persons, second-degree unlawful restraint, and risk of injury to a minor. After a Friday court appearance, they both remain free on $35,000 bond. The Barnes’ are due back in court on February 24.

“It’s kind of tough to say ‘hey let them off the hook,'” said a neighbor who asked us to hide their identity. “Put it to you this way, they’re lucky I’m not the judge.”

News 8 learned Thursday night that the husband is a volunteer Watertown firefighter. We stopped by the Barnes’ home to get their side of the story, but no one came to the door. Police say this is still an active investigation and more charges are expected.

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