San Jacinto couple arrested for child abuse pleads not guilty to lesser charges

EMBED </>More Videos

A San Jacinto couple appeared in court Thursday afternoon, two days after being arrested for child abuse against their own kids. (KABC)

A San Jacinto couple appeared in court Thursday afternoon, two days after being arrested for child abuse against their own kids.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies says the couple's two young boys were forced to live in deplorable conditions.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office has dropped the child abuse charges to misdemeanor child endangerment based on what they say was information in the police report. The couple pleaded not guilty to the lesser charges.

"This is a nightmare. It just needs to be over," said Teresa Tardy, the children's grandmother.

It's a nightmare that began Tuesday when her daughter, 29-year-old Emily Tardy, and son-in-law, 38-year-old Steven Crane, were arrested for child abuse in the 1600 block of Santa Fe Avenue.

Investigators with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department are accusing the couple of confining their 8-year-old and 7-year-old boys to a bedroom at night without access to a bathroom or basic needs for over a year.

These claims, Teresa Tardy tells Eyewitness News, don't come close to the truth.

"That's obscene. That would never ever, ever, ever happen," she said.

The couple's photos portray a typical family with outings on bikes and events.

Tardy says her son-in-law works nights. Her daughter is a stay-at-home mom who recently began homeschooling her oldest after he had some trouble at school.

The San Jacinto Unified School District confirms the oldest was removed from school, and a teacher reported concerns about abuse to authorities.

Tardy says the family had problems with the 8-year-old. She says he would wake up in the middle of the night and go outside to play. She says on one occasion he started a fire.

"They did put an alarm up on the door because they wanted to know if he got out. It's to protect them," said Tardy.

But that's not how investigators see it, calling the conditions of the locked room deplorable.

Tardy says the children had a habit of urinating in their room because they thought it was funny.

The children are now with their paternal grandparents, unaware their parents are behind bars.

"They don't need to know what's going on," said Tardy. "They wouldn't understand probably any of this. They just want their mom and dad."

The couple is expected to be released Thursday. The judge ordered them not to have any contact with their children unless supervised.

Their next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Related Topics:
child abusechild endangermentarrestcourtcourt caseSan JacintoBanningRiverside County
(Copyright ©2017 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)