Adopted son files lawsuit against Shelby Co. parents accused of locking him in basement 23 hours per day

Updated: Dec. 27, 2019 at 5:17 PM CST
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HELENA, Ala. (WBRC) - The victim in a child abuse case in Shelby County is taking legal action against his adoptive parents.

A lawsuit seeking compensatory damage has been filed against Richard and Cynthia Kelly after the couple pleaded guilty to charges earlier this month.

The lawsuit is being filed by Eddie Carter, who is the 21-year-old brother of the victim, Ethan Kelly. Ethan was 14 at the time of the crimes and is now 17.

The indictment said Richard and Cynthia Kelly locked the teen in a basement room for 23 hours per day, fed him only once a day, and given only a box spring to sleep on. Ethan was near death and weighed only 47 pounds when he was rushed to the hospital. His body temperature was 85 degrees and officials believed he had about three hours to live.

Helena police say it’s one of the worst cases they’ve ever seen. Attorney Roger Appell said he hopes the lawsuit sends a message to those who abuse children in their care.

“It was horrific. It’s the only word to describe what his condition was,” Appell said. “You can just imagine a 14-year-old boy weighing 47 pounds. It’s going to take time for him to get over this situation.”

Prosecutors are seeking 10 years plus time served. Defense attorneys want probation. Appell said Ethan is now in foster care recovering from the trauma while, his older brother Eddie lives in Arizona.

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