Foster parents are convicted
Beating of disabled teen in their Lombard home caught on video

By Art Barnum, Tribune Staff Reporter
Chicago Tribune, August 20, 2005


Two Lombard foster parents were convicted Friday of the 2002 beating of a 15-year-old disabled foster child in their care, an incident a neighbor captured on videotape.

Frank and Marylynnette Barney were taken immediately into custody after DuPage Judge Robert Anderson convicted them of criminal neglect of a disabled person and aggravated domestic battery.

"I winced as I watched the tape," Anderson said. "It was severe and distasteful."

The couple had cared for the child for several years before September 2002, when a neighbor watching a home video security system began to see an image from a similar home security camera that the Barneys had placed in the foster child's room.

After claiming to see several scenes of what she believed was physical abuse, she taped several episodes and gave them to police.

The tapes show four separate incidents in which Frank Barney is seen disciplining the child by striking him with a wooden paddle and on one occasion by repeatedly punching him in the face with his fist.

The tape, shown several times in court over the last three years, shows the youth yelling and moaning as he was hit more than 100 times.

Defense attorneys George Lynch and Steven Greenberg argued strongly since the couple's 2002 arrest that the tapes should not be used as evidence, but Anderson disagreed.

Frank Barney was convicted on five out of nine counts, with Anderson conceding that although some of the videotape episodes could be considered "physical discipline, the others went over the edge and no reasonable person could agree that it was permissible punishment."

Marylynnette Barney is never seen on the tape striking the youth, but Anderson said she was accountable because "she urged Frank, aided, assisted and encouraged him. Clearly she knew what was going on."

Lynch compared the beatings to those he received from nuns during his Chicago Catholic grade school education, and from his parents.

"The child was caught stealing, cheating and lying and the Barneys took reasonable steps to discipline the child, using appropriate corporal punishment," Lynch said.

But Assistant State's Atty. Alex McGimpsey said it was a "sadistic, brutal, despicable beating. Thank God we have a videotape."

Anderson set Sept. 13 for sentencing, when each of the defendants could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison.

The foster child, now 18, lives with another foster couple in the southwest suburbs.

abarnum@tribune.com

Copyright 2005, Chicago Tribune


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