- Associated Press - Saturday, November 21, 2020

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) - A Florida couple won’t serve any prison time in a child abuse case in which a malnourished, injured teenage girl was discovered hiding in woods.

A circuit judge declined a request Friday from prosecutors to sentence 49-year-old Kris Peters to a prison term. Instead, Peters was handed 15 years’ probation after pleading guilty to a charge of child neglect with great bodily harm.

The Lakeland Ledger reports that his wife, 37-year-old Melissa Peters, previously pleaded no contest to the same charge and also was sentenced to probation.

The two were charged after a 17-year-old girl in their care was found hiding in the woods in November 2016 by a passerby. Authorities say she was underweight and losing her hair and had infected wounds on her feet and a stab wound in her shoulder, which also had been fractured.

Doctors said she weighed 86 pounds, or about 20 pounds less than her ideal weight. The girl told investigators she hadn’t been allowed to bathe in eight months, could eat only when she stole food and endured repeated beatings on her feet with a metal pipe.



The couple claimed after their arrest that the girl’s wounds were self-inflicted, and the injuries to her feet were caused by her picking at her skin, according to investigators. They also told authorities the girl had mental health issues and repeatedly hit herself.

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