A preliminary hearing is set for Thursday in Circuit Court for a man charged with child abuse and felonious restraint after he — and an Albany County woman — allegedly kept a 7-year-old child in an outdoor cage.
Jena Harman, the child’s mother, and Alexander Smith are charged with one count each of child abuse and three counts each of felonious restraint, according to District Court felony information documents.
If guilty of all four counts, Harman and Smith each face up to 20 years imprisonment.
They were arrested July 24 after Albany County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a residence on Fox Creek Road and allegedly found the child in a cage.
Harman’s case was bound over to District Court. Her arraignment hasn’t been scheduled yet.
The Public Defender’s Office is representing Harman.
Tom Fleener, attorney with Fleener and Vang, is representing Smith, and Josh Merseal, Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney, is prosecuting.
Smith’s hearing, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Circuit Court, will determine whether his case is bound over to District Court.
Before the arrests, the Sheriff’s Office began receiving complaints of child abuse and requests for welfare checks dating back to August.
Deputies responded to the property after receiving a tip July 23 that the child was being kept in a cage there.
After arriving, deputies discovered the cage was about six feet square, five feet tall and constructed of cattle paneling and wooden snow fence. Plywood covered half of the top opening. Inside the cage, deputies discovered a cot, clothing, books, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a five-gallon bucket, according to court documents.
A metal chain and “dog-leash-style latch” were allegedly used to keep the child locked in the cage.
The child told deputies he/she had been in the cage on and off for three weeks, using the restroom from the cage, taking meals in the cage and sleeping overnight in the cage — even during rainstorms.
Harman allegedly referred to the cage as the child’s playpen and kept the child in the cage because he/she was misbehaving, according to District Court documents.
Smith told deputies he disliked the child but kept the child in the cage to ensure his/her safety, according to the affidavit.
Both Harman and Smith remain incarcerated at the Albany County Detention Center on $100,000 cash bonds.