Mother guilty of cruelty

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WAYNESBORO, Ga. --- For most of their lives, or in the case of the younger ones for their entire lives, Christine Long's children were trapped in conditions only fleas and roaches thrived in.

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Christine Long grew emotional at Burke County Courthouse, where she was sentenced on Friday. Her husband was sentenced in June.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Christine Long grew emotional at Burke County Courthouse, where she was sentenced on Friday. Her husband was sentenced in June.

The mother of 11 -- who pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to two years incarceration that she can serve in alternate weekends in jail -- blamed her husband.

Jeremy Long, she said, beat down her will to try to escape from the Burke County shack where one year ago Friday officers discovered Mrs. Long and her children. They were living without food, running water or electricity. The children ranged in age from 18 to 9 months.

Mrs. Long, 34, and her husband were indicted on charges of cruelty to children and failure to educate.

Mr. Long pleaded guilty in June and received a sentence of three years in prison followed by 10 years on probation. Prosecutors asked Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. on Friday to impose the same amount of prison time on Mrs. Long.

It wasn't only child neglect that could be attributed to poverty, said Assistant District Attorney Kristi Connell. This is a mother who never told her children she loved them, never gave them a hug, never even apologized for what they went through, Ms. Connell said.

The children didn't know how to bathe or turn on a water faucet, Ms. Connell said. More than one foster parent discovered the children didn't know how to use a toilet.

The child who was 11 years old when found needed surgery to remove the wax buildup in his ears. He weighed just 47 pounds, probably because he considered himself the guardian of his younger siblings and always divided his food with them, Ms. Connell said.

"It was like something I'd never seen before," said foster mother Tonya Torek, who agreed to take in the 8-year-old boy. The children smelled horrid -- somewhere between animal and death. He had never been in a car and suffered motion sickness during the first trip to his new home, she said.

The first day he spent at a day care, he was astonished that they had lunch and a snack, Mrs. Torek testified. Sometimes, he told her, they wouldn't eat for two days.

One afternoon, the boy was chewing a piece of gum, and she asked if he wanted a snack. The boy told her no. "There's a little flavor in this gum. I think I can make it to dinner." The story caused Judge Blanchard to bolt from the courtroom for a few minutes.

The boy didn't know how to play, Mrs. Torek said. He told her he wasn't allowed to go outside because he didn't have shoes. His parents told him that the neighbors were bad people who would set him on fire if they caught him, Mrs. Torek quoted her foster son as saying.

"I think I have been waiting for this for a whole year," Mrs. Torek said of her testimony. "He needs a voice (in court)."

The oldest boy was 13 and considered himself the man of the house, Ms. Connell said. He feels responsible for how his siblings were neglected. "He doesn't understand why. The one question he would ask his mother is 'Why?' "

The brother who was 6 when the children were found craves to be hugged and held at his foster home, Ms. Connell said. He never got hugs from his mother. "He can't understand why she never hugged him,'' said Ms. Connell, breaking down in tears.

He and his 5-year-old sister needed dental surgery because their teeth rotted to the roots, Ms. Connell said. None of the children had ever seen a dentist. They said they never had to brush their teeth.

The first morning foster father Randy Dailey awoke with the 3-year-old, she asked to go outside, he said. She said she had to go to the bathroom. At home she would go outside and dig a hole for herself, he said.

All the children were terrified of others. None had been to school. Only the oldest three could read at a rudimentary level.

Mrs. Long testified Friday that she wished she had known of the resources in the community and sought help. "Every day became a day of survival," she said.

"I did what I could with what I had."

But, Mrs. Long and her supporters told the judge, she has worked hard to become a new person. She has done everything the Department of Family and Children Services has asked: she has a clean home and a car, a job, and she has friends and the support of the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Waynesboro.

It would be wrong to send her prison, said the church's minister, the Rev. Al Wright, a sentiment echoed by her new boss, and Burke County sheriff's Chief Deputy James Hollingsworth.

Mrs. Long said she is punished every day when she wakes up without her children. "I tell them I'm sorry all the time. It hurts that they went through that. They were my life," she said.

The children don't talk lovingly about Mrs. Long, and they are adamant that both parents were responsible, Ms. Connell said. If she doesn't go to prison, it will tell the children what she did was all right, Ms. Connell said.

But defense attorney John Long and Amanda Hudock urged the judge to show compassion for a woman who has rehabilitated herself.

It was the worst case of neglect he had ever seen, Judge Blanchard said. "Thank heaven" for foster parents and all the teachers and guardians who have reached out to help these children.

He sentenced Mrs. Long to two years incarceration, a term that will be served by spending every other weekend in the Burke County Jail. She will also be on probation for the next 16 years.

The sentence disappointed Erika Van Buren, who attended the daylong hearing. She noted that NFL quarterback Michael Vick got 23 months in prison for cruelty to dogs.

"Once again, an injustice has been done on behalf of these children," Mrs. Van Buren said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

FRIDAY'S DEVELOPMENTS

THE PLEA: Christine Long, 34, pleaded guilty to charges of cruelty to children and failure to educate.

THE SENTENCE: Mrs. Long was sentenced to two years in jail and 16 years' probation. She will serve every other weekend in the Burke County Jail.

WHAT SHE SAID: "Every day became a day of survival. I did what I could with what I had."

Comments (145) Add comment
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FedupwithAUG
0
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FedupwithAUG 08/01/09 - 03:04 am
0
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Yeap, they got caught. Now

Yeap, they got caught. Now she is shameful. They should have put her away for at least 3 years. None of this weekend crap.

Riverman1
90289
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Riverman1 08/01/09 - 03:32 am
0
0
What a weird story. It's like

What a weird story. It's like these people lived on another planet. The children must be like Tarzan being raised by apes.

LadyCisback
4
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LadyCisback 08/01/09 - 03:45 am
0
0
they really should not be

they really should not be comparing cases.. children, humans, animals.. all created by one.. the same person!!

Dixieman
16479
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Dixieman 08/01/09 - 04:28 am
0
0
Well OF COURSE she blames the

Well OF COURSE she blames the man in the picture!

onecatfish
5
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onecatfish 08/01/09 - 05:14 am
0
0
I knew this was going to
Unpublished

I knew this was going to happen.She has done everything the Department of Family and Children Services has asked: she has a clean home and a car, a job, and she has friends and the support of the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Waynesboro.If she could drive and get a job, Then you know that she is not dumb. Burke County sheriff's Chief Deputy James Hollingsworth.He is the one that took her in . She doesnt go any were with out him.If this is the way the law works, Then we have big problems.Someone should look into what has been said between Hollingsworth and Blanchard. They maybe in the same bed with each other.This is 100% wrong, sent her away. She will never get her kids back again so sent her away.I hope that some power up reads this and will look into this case.

colcamp1
10
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colcamp1 08/01/09 - 05:24 am
0
0
What's up with this weekend

What's up with this weekend bull? It will be interesting to watch if this is the trend in similar cases.

Lucky_Luciano
0
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Lucky_Luciano 08/01/09 - 06:03 am
0
0
11 Children times 18 years

11 Children times 18 years (minimum) for each child, 1 year for every dollar spend on her "public defense" and she can earn time off for good behavior once all 11 children have no more nightmares or fears. Now, am I being too hard??? Nope, the sperm donor (he doesn't qualify for any parental term) should receive the same sentence............... Judge Blanchard please if you had to "leave the court room for several minutes" don't you think there is something wrong with your sentencing??????

1941
4
Points
1941 08/01/09 - 07:06 am
0
0
Who's for abortion? Where is

Who's for abortion? Where is all the racist name calling? Where is all the ''my taxes taking care of these people'. What if this was a black mother? This just goes to show you that, this type of stuff, goes on more with whites than it do with blacks, we just don't hear about it!!The judge should have given her twenty years, and she should never get her children back!! Nasty!!!

UncleBill
6
Points
UncleBill 08/01/09 - 07:27 am
0
0
It does seem inconsistent not

It does seem inconsistent not to lock her up full time. How is that every other weekend thing going to play out. On the other hand, it does cost the state money to incarcerate a prisoner. It would be nice if she could pay back her expenses to the state for the prosecution and care of the chidlren.

Happy Camper 455
6
Points
Happy Camper 455 08/01/09 - 07:39 am
0
0
That mother is a BIG FAT

That mother is a BIG FAT LIAR! I hope she never breathes air around those kids again!! I pray those kids never ever have to lay one eyeball on that man or woman, who only gave birth to them and was a sperm donor. This story just makes me sick.

Happy Camper 455
6
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Happy Camper 455 08/01/09 - 07:43 am
0
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Just look at her in the

Just look at her in the photo....she is about as remorseful as my big toe! Every OTHER weekend in jail...[filtered word]e

iam4him
0
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iam4him 08/01/09 - 07:47 am
0
0
where was her family or

where was her family or support system when all of this was happening? they all need extensive counseling.

da-realist
8
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da-realist 08/01/09 - 07:57 am
0
0
Sad, with the extreme neglect

Sad, with the extreme neglect and abuse in this case she should have been given life. I have known people who have been sentenced to lenghty prison terms for a less severe crime. Crimes against children should not be taken lightly.This is just another push under the rug by small town folk, and the case. should be thoroughly investigated by an outside agency. The sentencing has got to be out of any kind of guideline. Keep your eyes and ears open, the kids are our future

akmoose
146
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akmoose 08/01/09 - 08:18 am
0
0
I am sickened by the support

I am sickened by the support being shown for the mother. If the judge had to leave the room after hearing about the 8 year old who didn't know that people ate every day and could "make it until dinner" with a piece of gum that had a "little flavor left" then how on EARTH can people come to her defense? Thank GOD for the foster parents showing these children love, hugs, medical care, family and what it's SUPPOSED to be like. She had 18 years and 11 reasons why she needed to do better and leave him. They both should have been sentenced to 198 years (18years x's 11 children).
These children are going to need therapy for the rest of their lives.
It's too late...you're going to try and better your life NOW? No...unacceptable. Like I said, 18 years and 11 reasons why she needed to better her life. Can't blame just the father...the mother is the one that gave birth to them and was home with them. The children don't even speak lovingly about her? Then they won't miss her if she's in jail. They've received more love and care in the past year with strangers than in their entire existence with their own mother.
Oh this makes me so dang mad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

stillwaiting
0
Points
stillwaiting 08/01/09 - 08:21 am
0
0
She is only 34 and has had 11

She is only 34 and has had 11 children. Was birth control discussed as part of her sentence? She really doesn't need the opportunity to produce any more children. She has enough on her hands making amends to those that she has already birthed,

enana031
0
Points
enana031 08/01/09 - 08:22 am
0
0
The victims here are the

The victims here are the children. I honestly believe that this woman could have found a way to save herself and her children from her abusive husband and the horrid conditions. This is the worst case of neglect I have ever read about. Praise God these poor souls were saved and have a brighter future because of the generousity of the community, loving guadians and foster parents. I hope their future will be filled with happiness and success.

happythoughts
25
Points
happythoughts 08/01/09 - 08:41 am
0
0
They hid from family and

They hid from family and neighbors so the resources would not intrude in their lives. They knew it was bad wrong how they were living. Just a slap on the hand, shame on who?

WAG
287
Points
WAG 08/01/09 - 08:55 am
0
0
Seems like she has it made

Seems like she has it made now! A job,a car.... No kids to tie her down..If she was too stupid to know the way she was living was wrong how does she know enough to get a job. Just what kind of job does she have???? Not cleaning houses I hope..
Michael Vick served time for what he did to dogs and no one wants him to go back to work...Where is the justice here...Judge Blanchard should have to pay for the kids and all the therapy these kids will need.. I hope they sterilized her...She makes me want to puke.. And so does Judge Blanchard...What in the h--- were you thnking. Or not thinking... It is amazing how she got better once the kids were gone!!!!

akmoose
146
Points
akmoose 08/01/09 - 09:17 am
0
0
Let's also not forget she

Let's also not forget she didn't look like she'd been missing any meals.
I hope the children all are as chunky as she is after they'd all been so underweight and sharing food.

cp44
23
Points
cp44 08/01/09 - 09:35 am
0
0
Okay...am I getting all of

Okay...am I getting all of the facts?? This man and woman had 11 children (did she give birth at home)? Someone had to go see a doctor or hospital at somw point in those 18 years?? Praise God for allowing these children to be freed from slavery. God has an unimmaginable plan for these little ones!! The "parents" should be locked in a jail cell (I will pay for it and all of their food, how much could a measly piece of bread every five days cost?)and just when they think things could not get any worse.....ELECTRIC CHAIR!!! I will pray for these children everyday!! Thank you from the bottom for all of the foster parents and help that has been given to these children!!

cp44
23
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cp44 08/01/09 - 09:38 am
0
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By the way...she sure does

By the way...she sure does not look like she has missed a single meal.

cricketflea
3
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cricketflea 08/01/09 - 10:29 am
0
0
I agree with you 100%

I agree with you 100% PeaceLover!!!! LISTEN to the kids in this one!! Geez you people are willing to listen to a kid who will say someone---anyone molested them...why not listen to them now!!! The foster parents are telling that they never got hugs! Never were told three simple words---I LOVE YOU! Never were sent to school, never taught to care for their own bodies!! This [filtered word]woman is nothing but scum herself She has MANIPULATED everyone in this one!!!! She has become one GOOD actress!!!!!

akmoose
146
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akmoose 08/01/09 - 10:32 am
0
0
My thoughts exactly

My thoughts exactly cricketflea.
I can't believe anyone is sticking up for her.
There's actually people saying, "don't judge unless you walked in her shoes". Are you KIDDING me?? Who'd want to?? She's not going to do well in the general public, there's going to be people who will confront her over this, I'm sure.
I can't...I don't have the restraint.

Rose
17
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Rose 08/01/09 - 10:46 am
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akmoose I am not surprised

akmoose I am not surprised people are taking up for her. That's the way society is today. No matter what mothers do to their kids, people say poor thing needs help and she had problems. I hope she suffers for what she did.

Rose
17
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Rose 08/01/09 - 10:50 am
0
0
I read this story, and I am

I read this story, and I am crying on the inside for those kids.

akmoose
146
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akmoose 08/01/09 - 11:07 am
0
0
Did anyone see the story

Did anyone see the story about the mother that killed her 3 1/2 week old baby in Texas? Ok, I don't want to sound cruel, BUT...to me this is worse. The mother in Texas was crazy to start with...she had an "excuse" and people NEVER should have let her have the baby to begin with. But it was over and done with quickly and the baby had no knowledge of what was being done to it. THIS has been going on for 18 years with 2 people responsible, how do you not know it's wrong????

Rose - they'll say she's "suffering" because she's been without her children but they've been better off without her.

I apologize for posting so much but I live in Burke County and have heard this story and the ongoing drama from right here and it's something I feel very very strongly about, I can't seem to get off the soapbox.

_fullmetaljacket_
0
Points
_fullmetaljacket_ 08/01/09 - 11:24 am
0
0
The house belonged to a rc

The house belonged to a rc commissioner at the time of her arrest--he didn't know?

Rose
17
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Rose 08/01/09 - 11:46 am
0
0
I was reading this to my

I was reading this to my husband, and he asked me not to continue. He was choked up.

jus sayin
0
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jus sayin 08/01/09 - 11:52 am
0
0
Wow, you guys are amazing,

Wow, you guys are amazing, yesterday they had a story where a single mom of two couldn't find a job, and you all slammed her, accusing her for living on the system. This lady has 11 and the father was present, this is what happens when you refuse to live on the SYSTEM. Wouldn't you rather she had taken some of our hard earned money?

Rebelbuyer
30
Points
Rebelbuyer 08/01/09 - 12:04 pm
0
0
onecatfish and
Unpublished

onecatfish and fullmetaljacket y'all must be from Burke Co. too. I'm 100% in agreement with you. Those of us who LIVE here are aware of the underhanded things which go on between the Sheriff's Office and Judges sent down to us. It is no use at all to try and get these cry babies to look at this case beyond what the authorites and the news paper has put out. Already, due to some comments on yesterdays article, guess what, it's been sanitized. The orginal comments are gone and a new article takes its place with one comment. "Burke mom of 11 gets alternate weekends in jail for 10 years" try searching for the article. That woman loved her husband, there is written proof of that. For whatever reason she has been made to recant her feelings and to turn on her husband. Onecatfish, you raised some intersting questions which are being talked about all over Waynesboro. The people here know whats happening. The people in Augusta are just Pavlovian respondents, mention the words, never mind the truth, just the words neglected or abused children and reason, and logic fly out the window. The authorities are sorely disappointed no sexual charge to pin on this couple.

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