Watertown Firefighter, Wife Accused of Locking Kids in Bathroom Arrested Again: Police

Watertown Police Department

A Watertown, Connecticut, volunteer firefighter and his wife, who are accused of punishing their children by making them stand in a locked bathroom for long periods of time, have been arrested again on child abuse allegations. 

Volunteer firefighter George Barnes, 45, and Nancie Barnes, 47, were arrested Tuesday on warrants stemming from the original child abuse investigation, which started at the end of January.

The couple adopted four children and are guardians of a fifth. All five children, ranging in age from 9 to 18, told police they had been punished various times and would need to stand in the bathroom and read for extended periods of time, Watertown police said. 

They were charged in January with cruelty to persons, unlawful restraint and risk of injury to a minor. 

The couple's original arrest was for alleged crimes against two of their children, while Tuesday's charges involve the other three, police said. 

Since the couple's January arrest, two other children have described being isolated in the bathroom as punishment, according to police. The oldest child told investigators George Barnes grabbed him or her by the throat and Nancie Barnes pushed the child. 

Police said in January one of the couple's adopted children was locked in the bathroom from September to mid-December, when the Department of Children and Families visited the house, according to police. The DCF removed the children from the home temporarily.

George and Nancie Barnes allegedly used baby monitors to see if the child was standing when he or she was "supposed to be" and brought meals to the child in the bathroom throughout the three-month period, police said.

Police said the children were allowed out to go to sleep or to school while confined to the bathroom.

According to court documents, the couple didn't think they were doing anything wrong.

Both Nancie and George Barnes are charged with risk of injury to a minor, cruelty to persons, unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct. George Barnes is also accused of assault. 

The children are still in DCF placement, according to police. 

The Barneses were released on $10,000 bonds each and are expected to appear in court on Feb. 24. 

A public defender is representing the couple.

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