For the second time since she pled no contest in June 2014 to felony charges of endangering two adopted Ethiopian children, Kristen Barbour has asked that the terms of her punishment be changed. The district attorney has filed objections to any change in Kristen Barbour’s sentence.
Last September, Kristen Barbour was sentenced to six to 12 months in jail for pleading no contest to the felony charges of endangering the two children she and her husband had adopted in 2012. In October, she petitioned the court to serve the sentence in an alternative housing situation. That request was denied, and she was sent to the Mercer County (Pennsylvania) jail.
However, she has been allowed out up to six days a week to be in her home during the day with her two biological children (who were unharmed by her or her husband) while her husband, Douglas Barbour, works at the family gardening/nursery business. Her petition to allow time served before sentencing to decrease her time of 6 to 12 months in jail was also denied. She is not allowed to take the children outside the home, with the exception of doctor visits (or similar) for which she must get advance permission.
On December 17, Kristen’s attorney, Robert Stewart, filed another petition on Kristen’s behalf, asking that she be allowed to live at home, with electronic monitoring. According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Stewart’s petition said that “Barbour ‘poses no threat to society and no evidence was presented to show that she has any propensity to be a recidivist.'”
To me, that misses the point. I agree it’s unlikely that Kristen Barbour will harm other children. She did not harm her biological children. She did, though, plead no contest to endangering and abusing two little children. The sentence is designed to be a punishment for child abuse, and to be a message that such abuse will not be tolerated.
Another family adopted the two Ethiopian children last year. Read more here about how the children are doing after having been removed from the Barbours. In the Post-Gazette article, the new adoptive mother, Alison Patterson, is quoted as saying: “That Ms. Barbour caused this petition to be filed just two months into a sentence that includes daily furlough is further evidence that she fails to grasp the seriousness of the crimes for which she has been convicted…(I)f this petition is granted, I worry for the future time when I will have to explain this to my children,” Mrs. Patterson said. “I worry right now for the message this petition sends to other child victims.”
The district attorney’s office has weighed in, objecting to any change in Kristen Barbour’s sentence. The January 2 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quotes Jennifer DiGiovanni, deputy district attorney, as saying “It would send a message to the community that endangerment that led to observable suffering and permanent damage is not something that the criminal justice system takes seriously.”
There will be a hearing to consider Kristen Barbour’s request; the date has not yet been set.