Those of us lucky enough to be blessed with children are all subject to parenting fails from time to time.
But a disturbing case in South Dakota has shed light on a husband and wife whose conduct with their brood is truly beyond the pale.
The couple pleaded not guilty this week to charges that, over the course of several years, they gave their four children drugs and zapped them with cattle prods to punish them.
Lance Lowell Long, 36, and Crystallynn Long, 40, of Sioux Falls, have been charged with 14 total counts, including aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, distribution of marijuana to a minor, distributing a controlled substance to a minor and abuse or cruelty to a minor.
The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, which charged the couple earlier this month, have said that the abuse had been going on for several years. It is alleged to involve a 17-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy and a 11-year-old boy. The children are related and some are half-siblings.
The couple gave the children methamphetamine and marijuana and shocked them with a “hot shot cattle prod to get the children to obey commands or if they weren’t listening,” Captain Josh Phillips of the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office said. “A majority of the children said that had been used on them numerous times the last three years.”
Authorities received a child abuse complaint on May 13 from an individual who is connected to the couple, who live in the 6400 block of N. 10th Avenue, that the abuse was taking place, Phillips said.
The children were interviewed and Lance Long and Crystallynn Long were eventually arrested after fleeing to Oklahoma. They were brought back to Sioux Falls to face the music.
According to arrest warrants for the couple, detectives spoke with one of the children who mentioned he recently joined the Marine Corps. The child told his recruitment sergeant about the problems he experienced at home, and the sergeant then made a call to one of the child’s relatives, who reported the abuse to police.
The child told the officer that Lance had given him and his siblings marijuana and meth for the last two and a half years, and that Lance had given the others the same drugs within the last two months, according to the warrants.
At least one of the children was reported to have been punched in the kidneys and thighs as well as shot with the cattle taser, according to the documents.
After receiving the disturbing reports, sheriff’s deputies responded to the house to perform a welfare check on the children. They knocked on the door, and were greeted by some of the children. The children were asked about the abuse allegations, and they denied them, the warrants stated.
But one of the deputies noticed one of the children appeared to be “excessively nervous” while talking, and spoke with the child and Cyrstallynn in the driveway. Crystallynn denied giving her children drugs, and denied knowing about any physical abuse involving Lance, the warrant states.
Then one of the deputies asked Cyrstallynn if they could speak to one of the children in private. She gave the deputy permission. As the deputy spoke with the child in his vehicle, the child said everything their sibling mentioned was true.