Additional charges likely won’t be filed against a couple that police say had restrained their 5-year-old grandchild by taping her legs and holding her in a makeshift cage.
Police went to the home of 46-year-old Eric Riley and 52-year-old Penny Riley last week because officers had been told that the 5-year-old was restrained at night. Police report that they found the girl in a large clothes hamper turned on its side with a gate wired to the front. Police also say the girl’s legs were restrained, using tape and straps.
Assistant District Attorney Ben Hofmeister said there’s nothing in Alaska’s criminal statutes that applies to those circumstances.
“I don’t think it’s so much that people don’t think this it’s a horrific situation, it’s just there’s not a specific charge for this. (Ketchikan Police Department) was aware of that as well,” he said.
Hofmeister said there’s no general “child abuse” statute, and it didn’t appear that the girl was physically harmed. He says he talked with Ketchikan Police Department officers about other possible criminal charges that might apply to the alleged restraint of the girl, but none fit this case.
“There’s no law that says if you have a child restrained in any particular manner … there’s other statutes that describe restraint. For example, kidnapping has a level of restraint that is involved, but there’s other elements that this case wouldn’t meet, so kidnapping is not something that could be charged in this case,” he said. “Endangering the welfare of a child has very specific theories, none of which apply to this case, from what I’ve been told by police.”
Hofmeister says he understands that members of the public are concerned about this case. He says he’ll continue to review it to see whether there is a criminal statute that applies.
Hofmeister adds that the state Office of Children’s Services has intervened and removed the girl and another child from the home. In the meantime, the Rileys do face other criminal charges.
While police were at the Rileys’ home last week for the welfare check, officers say they noticed a marijuana grow operation. A later search warrant led to the seizure of 52 plants plus processed marijuana. The Rileys face felony drug charges; and charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly exposing the children to the marijuana operation
The Rileys were released on bail of $1,000 each following their arraignment last Wednesday. Their next scheduled court hearing is 1 p.m. Friday in Ketchikan District Court.