A Wyandotte County judge on Tuesday ordered five women from God's Creation Outreach Ministry in Kansas City, Kan., to stand trial on child-abuse charges.
During a preliminary hearing, Judge Jan Way found there was sufficient evidence for the case to go forward against Idella A. Horton, 23; Renita D. Allen-Jackson, 41; Patricia A. Walker, 45; Barbara Clark, 45; and Julia Edgar-Montgomery, 55.
Way's ruling came after testimony from police detectives that the women disciplined the children by hogtying one and placing her in the bathtub face down overnight; by taping another with his arms outstretched "crucifixion-style" to the rails of a bunk bed; and by binding a third with twine and wrapping him in a sheet "like a mummy."
Detectives testified that at least one of the children still has marks around her wrists from when her hands were bound with plastic ties last year.
Way arraigned the women on the charges and entered not-guilty pleas on their behalf. No trial date was set.
After the hearing, four of the women's attorneys said that their clients maintained their innocence and looked forward to their day in court. Allen-Jackson and her attorney could not be reached for comment after the hearing.
All five defendants, all of Kansas City, Kan., are free on bond.
The women are accused, along with 46-year-old Christy Edgar of Overland Park and 19-year-old Chasity Boyd of Kansas City, Kan., of physically abusing three of Christy Edgar's children and a friend of the children's. The children range in age from 9 to 13.
Christy Edgar, Neil Edgar Sr. and Chasity Boyd are charged with murder in Johnson County in the death of the Edgars' 9-year-old son, Brian. He was one of the four children the seven women are accused of abusing.
Christy Edgar and her husband, 47-year-old Neil Edgar Sr., ran God's Creation Outreach Ministry out of a building at 817 Central Ave.
During the hearing Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Sheryl Lidtke based the state's case on testimony by detectives from the Kansas City, Kan., and Overland Park police departments.
The detectives interviewed two of the Edgars' surviving children -- a 9-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy -- about the alleged abuse.
Lidtke told the judge that she would use either the videotaped interviews or testimony from the children at the trial.
The abuse allegedly took place at four houses and at the church in Kansas City, Kan., over three months, ending in late December. The women lived in the houses.
Overland Park Detective Bobbi Jo Hohnholt testified that the children referred to the women as their aunts. The 9-year-old girl, Hohnholt said, at first was hesitant to talk to investigators. After her brother told her it was OK, the girl opened up, Hohnholt said.
The children told investigators that they were abused when they misbehaved, Hohnholt said. She said the women disciplined the children for such things as disrespecting adults, misbehaving, talking too much, drinking water and stealing food.
Hohnholt said either Christy Edgar or Chasity Boyd would take the children to one of the women's houses to be disciplined.
According to Hohnholt's testimony, the girl said she was hogtied and left face-down overnight in a dry bathtub at least 10 times.
Hohnholt also testified that the 12-year-old boy said that Brian was once tied overnight to a bunk bed with his arms outstretched and feet dangling.
Clark's attorney, Jeffrey Sutton of Kansas City, Kan., asked Hohnholt if she knew whether the children were abusing each other or acting out sexually with each other.
When Lidtke objected, Sutton said it was germane to his client's defense because if the children were acting out sexually, he could argue that Clark had to tie them up to prevent them from sexually abusing each other.
Way said the matter was not relevant for the preliminary hearing and disallowed further questions on the subject.