Father of kids found living in squalor gets three years

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First at Five, June 24, 2009

BURKE COUNTY, Ga.---In the worst neglect case the District Attorney's Office says they've ever seen, a father is sentenced to three years in prison for cruelty to his children.

Jeremy Long's 11 kids, ranging from six months to eighteen years old, were found by deputies last July. The Burke County home had no electricity, no running water, and no beds. The only food found was some applesauce and jelly.

Jeremy Long originally pleaded not guilty, but changed his mind, pleading guilty and entering and agreement with the D.A.'s office. He could have faced 100 years in prison, but instead got three plus ten years of probation.

In court an Assistant D.A. called the conditions "deplorable" and said they could not figure out how things got to that point.

I think one of the reasons why this case was so bad was because of the sheer number of children," said Assistant D.A. Hank Syms.

Syms says by Long pleading not guilty, it saves the children from having to come to court and testify against their father.

The D.A.'s office says the kids still love their father, and are now torn between the two parents. Their mother, Christine Long, has filed for divorce and claims she was physically abused and raped by Jeremy Long.

In court, the D.A.'s office said they haven't found any evidence of that.

"They just weren't taken care of properly. And that certainly needed to be addressed but probably doesn't demand as long a sentence, given Mr. Long's acceptance of responsibility in the case, as would a physical or sexual abuse case," said Syms.

Christine Long's trial date has not been set, and the Syms says they hope to get it done in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Long will be in prison the next two years and two months, as he has already served ten months in jail.

Syms says the kids are doing much better in foster homes, but still have a long way to go, since they were all illiterate when found. Syms also says he believes they're much happier now.

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