Sunday, April 22, 2007

the old woman in the shoe

A woman is in jail and her nearly 20 children are in state custody in what Nurseryland officials are calling one of the most horrific and systematic cases of child abuse in record.

Authorities entered the home of Geraldine Hubbard, 38, known throughout Nurseryland as The Shoe because of its distinctive architecture following a report by neighbor Peter P. Pumpkineater that Hubbard was subjecting the children to a regimen of starvation and physical abuse.

Inside The Shoe, authorities discovered that the cupboard was bare.

"There wasn't even a bone for Hubbard's old dog," said Anthony Williams, a spokesman for Child Protective Services — and found signs that the children, desperate for sustenance, had chewed on the drywall, eaten the potted plants in the house, and in the case of the youngest child, even taken bites from the pots themselves.

Officials have said only that they removed 18 children from The Shoe this morning. They declined to release the names and ages of the children, except to say that they are all minors.

"From the information we have been able to gather, last night Hubbard gave them some broth and gave them some bread," said Williams. "This is the only meal we have been able to verify that she gave the children in the past three days."

Hubbard's children are undergoing thorough medical exams. In addition to the long-term risks to development caused by malnutrition, authorities also are investigating allegations of physical abuse, including that Hubbard spanked her children as part of a bedtime routine.

Jack Horner, an attorney for Hubbard, claims that Hubbard is the victim of a bureaucratic failure on the part of the Nurseryland government, and predicted that she ultimately would be exonerated of all charges.

"It's like the time CPS accused the king of harboring dangerous animals because a blackbird pecked off the nose of his laundrywoman," Horner said. "They're coming in, trying to grab headlines and painting my client as outrageously negligent and even cruel. The record will show that Geraldine had the best interests of her children at heart the whole time."

During the last six months, Hubbard petitioned Nurseryland officials several times for financial assistance in managing that her household, but never received any help at all. Records at the Department of Human Services verify that Hubbard did request help, with the notation that her case was "pending consideration."

"She had 18 children, including two sets of twins, with five children under 6 years old," said Horner. "The record will show in the end that she is not an evil woman; she just had so many children she didn't know what to do."

Copyright © 2007 by David Learn. Used with permission.

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