DENVER (CBS4)– A special investigator has been assigned to a shocking case of child abuse in Denver after four siblings were found living in deplorable conditions.

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.

A criminal complaint shows that Sperling had been issued a summons in 2006 for three counts of child neglect which is a misdemeanor.

Some wonder if the abuse could have been caught sooner and the children may have had a better chance at recovering.

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.

Neighbors said they reported abuse to police last year but why it took so long for the children to be removed from the home will be investigated by Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman Dennis Goodwin.

“Look again at the rules, procedure, policy, best practices, were they followed, were they not?” said Goodwin.

Goodwin will examine reports from both Denver Police and Denver Human Services.

Whether they could have been saved sooner from their alleged abuse remains to be seen.

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things still turn out bad but in this case we’ll take a look at everything and make recommendations for improvement if they’re warranted,” said Goodwin.

He will eventually issue a report with his findings but he said more often than not his office finds that policies and procedures were followed correctly.

Goodwin could also make recommendations for changes.


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