Bella Vista Couple Pleads Not Guilty In Child Abuse Case
A former Bentonville school bus driver and her husband pleaded not guilty on Monday (Sept. 23) at their arraignments in Benton County Circuit Court, said Van Stone, prosecuting attorney.
James and Janefer Ogborn of Bella Vista were arrested last month on suspicion of several child abuse-related charges.
She is charged with three felonies — endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, aggravated assault and false imprisonment in the first degree — and misdemeanor third-degree battery, records show.
He is charged with three felonies: permitting the abuse of a minor, endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree and false imprisonment in the first degree, records show.
Soon after their arrest, they were released from the Benton County Jail by a judge without bond, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Their next court date, an omnibus hearing, is set for Nov. 18, Stone said. They have a pretrial hearing scheduled for April 28, with a jury trial set to begin on April 29, the prosecutor said.
Not-guilty pleas are common at arraignments to allow a case to proceed in the legal system.
The Ogborns were arrested after an officer said their malnourished children looked “like they came from a Holocaust concentration camp.”
Janefer Ogborn later resigned from her job as a bus driver for the Bentonville School District, a district spokesperson told 5NEWS.
Bella Vista police responded Aug. 9 to a home in reference to a possible child abuse call. When officers arrived, they spoke with a child at the residence, who told police his mom, Janefer Ogborn, had hit and kicked him during an altercation. The child also told police the mom “told me she hated me and wanted to put my head through the wall, and would break me in half,” according to a probable cause affidavit in Benton County Circuit Court.
Police said the children “were very thin and extremely pale-skinned,” also noting that their hair was thin and eyes sunken in.
“They looked a lot smaller size way than a child of that age should be and the color of their skin and their appearance where of children that were malnourished,” said Captain Tim Cook of the Bella Vista Police Department.
“The children were complaining of being hungry and thirsty,” the affidavit states. “Their skin was also pale and ashy. You could see the veins in their necks and bones sticking out.”
Three children at the home told police they often were forced to stand for long periods of time, were only allowed to use the bathroom four times a day and were allowed two Dixie cups of water a day with meals, according to the affidavit.
The children also said they were forced to sleep on the floor. If they tried to sneak into their beds during the night, they were yelled at and forced to stand for long periods of time as punishment, the affidavit states.
The children said they were locked in their rooms and watched by video camera because they “steal food,” police said.
When the couple arrived home, Janefer Ogborn denied hitting any of the children, saying instead that she grabbed his cheek when he was not cooperating. Police asked to see the camera footage of the children’s rooms, but the Ogborns said the cameras were not functioning, the affidavit states.
Police seized the children from the home and placed the Ogborn couple under arrest, according to the affidavit.