ANKENY, IOWA — An Ankeny couple are charged with Child Endangerment and Neglect of a Dependent Person for allegedly abusing their 13-year-old adopted child at their home, then abandoning them at a Des Moines hospital. Matthew Stephens, 47, and Sarah Stephens, 46, were arrested on Wednesday. They are both now free on bond.
According to court documents, the couple ‘knowingly and willingly’ abused their adopted 13-year-old-child – while other adopted siblings in the home weren’t similarly treated.
Among the accusations in the report:
- the Stephens deprived the victim of food, clothing and shelter
- punished child by not allowing them to eat, causing significant weight loss
- child made to stand outside for hours as punishment (sometimes in the cold)
- child was watched through a hidden camera in their room
- an alarm was placed on the child’s room
- the child wasn’t allowed to change clothes or maintain hygiene
Police say this abuse lead the child to ask at school if they were allowed to take a shower.
Court documents also allege that the child was hospitalized for nine days in November 2022 and that their mother refused to pick them when they was discharged – abandoning them at the hospital.
A no-contact order is in place against the Stephens that prohibits them from any contact with the alleged victim or any of their other adopted children.