A Franklin Park couple charged with abusing their two adopted children from Ethiopia were in court Monday, seeking permission to have supervised visitation with the 6-year-old boy they are accused of having starved and the 19-month-old girl who suffered head trauma, and might be blind in one eye and paralyzed after having suffered a stroke.
Douglas Barbour, 33, and his wife, Kristen, 30, also sought visitation with their two biological children, ages 4 and 2, during a brief appearance before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.
Two attorneys representing the couple said that the no-contact order in place against the couple was too restrictive, and that the Barbours are not a danger to the children.
Judge Manning granted part of the couple's request. They will be allowed visits with their biological children, who have not been identified as abused, but not their adoptive children.
The judge put a further limitation on his ruling, as well.
He told both sides that Judge Kathleen Mulligan, who is overseeing the Barbours' dependency case in family court, must sign off on the visitation.
She had granted the parents professionally supervised visitation with all four children Sept. 21, a week after the children were admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, but nearly two weeks before the couple were charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children.
When reached Monday afternoon, Judge Mulligan said she was unable to comment.
Judge Manning added one additional restriction at the request of Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka. She said the 4-year-old might be called as a witness in the child abuse case. She asked to receive reports from the officials supervising the visits to ensure the girl's parents don't say anything improper to her.
Their biological children are currently living with their paternal grandparents.
The adopted boy is in foster placement, and the infant is at the Children's Institute.
According to Mary Sue Ramsden, who represents the Barbours in family court, the KidsVoice attorney representing the biological children supports visitation.
"These kids really miss their parents," she said. "The no-contact order is too far and too mean of a restriction."
Attorney Christopher Capozzi, who is representing both defendants in criminal court, said his clients have a strong support system, and that their parents were all present in court, as were two siblings and their pastor.
Mr. Barbour, who is suspended without pay, has worked as a deputy state attorney general for seven years.
Ms. Barbour is a college-educated, stay-at-home mom, Mr. Capozzi said.
He repeatedly talked about the couple's standing and good reputation in the community.
"They're not a threat to any children," Mr. Capozzi said. "They vehemently deny these charges."
Judge Manning responded, "The little I know about this -- it's a very perplexing case."
The Barbours are accused of physically abusing and starving the two children they adopted in March.
According to the criminal complaint, the boy weighed 46 pounds, 8 ounces when he arrived in the United States. When he was admitted to the hospital he weighed just over 37 pounds. He gained about 7 pounds in just five days in the hospital without any medical treatment.
In addition, the boy had skin lesions that likely resulted from ongoing contact with urine.
The boy told a doctor that when he soiled his pants, his parents would make him stand in the dark or eat dinner in the bathroom, according to the criminal complaint.
The treating physician said the boy was the victim of "significant neglect and possible emotional abuse over a prolonged period of time."
"The 6-year-old is openly fearful of these people," Ms. Ditka said. "The 1-year-old can't speak as a result of these actions."
The infant suffered repeated "abusive head trauma" and showed multiple healing fractures. She had bleeding in her brain and a possible corneal rupture.
Also at Monday's hearing, the Barbours asked Judge Manning to reduce the couple's $25,000 bond to nonmonetary, which would allow Mr. Barbour's father to have the 10 percent he posted to free them returned.
The judge denied that request.
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com or 412-263-2620.