DENVER (CBS4)– Four children who were found malnourished and unable to speak according to their expected development level may have a tough time adjusting to the outside world.

The brothers, ages 2 to 6, were removed from what police described as a filthy Denver apartment late last month and placed in state custody. Their parents, Wayne Sperling and Lorinda Bailey, appeared in court Tuesday on charges of felony child abuse.

Child psychologist Bill Betts, Ph.D. works at the Kempe Center. He believes the boys have a long road ahead to recovery.

He believes teaching them to speak will be difficult.

“It may take years to sort of get to the language development that they need and they may never recover all of the language development,” said Betts.

Doctors found the boys were malnourished, were not toilet-trained and had poor and delayed verbal skills, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. They made “infant-like noises” to each other, one officer reported.

Betts believes the boys will likely need an assortment of therapy but may be beyond the window of learning how to trust people.

“If they don’t learn that they can build those trusting relationships it’s difficult for them to ever develop those relationships later in life,” said Betts.

The apartment where they lived was littered with feces, cat urine and flies, police said. It had an unbearable odor like that of a decaying animal.

The boys were taken into protective care. Confidentiality laws prevent authorities from releasing any details about how the boys are doing.

The state’s protection investigator told CBS4 that he will take an objective look into the care provided by the parents. He will also review case reports by human services and police to try to prevent similar alleged reports of abuse.


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