Kin of Xerox's Wilson guilty in cult case

The Democrat and Chronicle/January 26, 2003
By Lauren Stanforth

A granddaughter of Xerox Corp. founder Joseph C. Wilson could face 11 years in prison after being involved in what was described as a cult in which a 19-month-old died.

Deirdre Hart Wilson, 38, is scheduled to be sentenced March 3 in Marin County, Calif., after pleading guilty to five felony counts of child endangerment -- one count for each of her children, said Barry Borden, deputy district attorney in Marin County.

The 19-month-old, who starved to death in November 2001, was the child of another woman living in the house with the group known as "The Family ."

Five women (including Wilson), one man and 13 children lived in the house, where the children were punished through starvation, whipping, having their mouths taped shut and by being force-fed hot peppers, according to reports published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Marin Independent Journal.

The six adult members of "The Family" were initially charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. But through a plea deal struck last month, the charges were dropped to child endangerment for three of the adults, Borden said. Prosecutors dropped charges against one woman who did not live with the family long; another woman died of leukemia last year.

Wilson could receive at minimum probation, or at maximum 11 years and four months in prison. Her children, as well as the others in the home, were turned over to child protective services at the start of the case.

Wilson's father, J. Richard Wilson of Brighton, said the family has no comment until after the sentencing.

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