OPELOUSAS, La. — A Louisiana couple is facing felony cruelty to a juvenile charges for reportedly forcing their 14-year-old son to live in a shed without air conditioning and feeding him only leftover scraps from other family members, according to the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies began their investigation June 23 when someone reported that a 14-year-old boy said he had been living in an unairconditioned shed for weeks. The teen reportedly told the witness that he was only being fed scraps from family members.
When detectives went to the home, the teen was sitting on the front porch. He told deputies that he hadn’t bathed or eaten in “a couple of days.”
Investigators went to the shed and found a sofa set with a pillow and blanket, a black trash bag with clothes in it and a table with deodorant and cologne sitting on top. The shed had an air conditioner, but it didn’t work, according to the sheriff’s office.
The child’s parents allegedly made him live in the shed because “he kept stealing and he would not do chores.”
“The parents had to put a lock on the pantry because the juvenile would also steal food,” deputies said.
The teen told investigators he had been living in the shed for about three weeks.
The boy’s mother, Antoinette Lewis, said she knew her husband had been making her son sleep in the shed. She also admitted that there was a lock on the pantry, and she was the only one with a key.
Antoinette Lewis, 35, and her husband, 42-year-old Larry James Lewis, were arrested and booked into the St. Landry Parish Jail on one count each of felony cruelty to a juvenile. The father’s bond is set at $7,500. Antoinette Lewis is being held on a $25,000 bond.
“I would never tell parents how to raise their children, but there are laws that protect their safety,” St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said. “In this case, the parents should have rethought the punishment and found a safer way to discipline their child.”