14 Sep 2014
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Not Guilty Plea for Mom Accused of Locking Autistic Son in Basement

Teri Allen plead not guilty to charges that she abused her autistic, adult son by locking him in the basement of her home.

Not Guilty Plea for Mom Accused of Locking Autistic Son in Basement
The Racine woman who is accused of keeping her adult son locked in the basement while wearing a dog shock collar entered a not guilty plea Thursday.

Teri Allen appeared in court with attorney John Anthony Ward for her preliminary hearing on a single felony count of intentionally causing an individual at risk to abuse – likely to cause bodily harm. If convicted, she faces up to 18 months in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

Her 23-year-old son is believed to have Asperger's Syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Allen is accused of keeping him locked in the basement of her home for the last year or so.

Allen has said she kept her son in the basement not only for his own safety but also for the safety of other children who live in the home and kids in the neighborhood, according to our media partners at WISN 12 News. 

The man has been removed from the home and is living with his paternal grandmother. She is the one who alerted police that her grandson might be suffering from abuse and requested a welfare check.

During the hearing Thursday, Racine police Investigator Chris Blackmore first answered questions from Assistant District Attorney Robert Repischak about what he found when he visited the Allen home in the 1700 block of Holmes Avenue.

Blackmore confirmed that Allen's son was locked in the unfinished basement of the home wearing a dog shock collar and without proper facilities.

"There wasn't a toilet. He used a bucket, like a five-gallon, with a seat on it," the investigator told the court. "He slept on a twin mattress that didn't have any sheets. There was a thin blanket, like one you use when you're moving."

According to Blackmore's testimony, the makeshift toilet and sleeping quarters were the idea of Sarkis "Sam" Asdigian, 43, who lives in the same home and is also facing charges in this case. He was released from custody on a $5,000 signature bond, according to a story from The Journal Times.

Repischak also got Blackmore on the record describing how Allen would feed her son through a hole in the wall and that there was no escape from the basement in case of an emergency. There also was not a doorknob on the basement side of the door, leaving the son trapped there when the door was locked.

The son could come upstairs to wash his face, shower and brush his teeth if he would knock on the door, Blackmore said. But, the man was also left in the basement for up to two days at a time when the family was home and for several hours when no one was home.

Ward asked Blackmore if he was aware that Allen had tried to get her son committed to a hospital and that on previous visits to the home, police officers advised Allen to put her son in the basement as a punishment for misbehaving.

The investigator said he didn't know about efforts to find a facility for the son but that he did know about officers' advice to Allen. 

Blackmore's testimony under cross-examination also included details from his interview with Allen, during which she admitted to keeping her son in the basement for his own good and the safety of children in the neighborhood.

In the end, Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch bound Allen over trial, and Allen entered a not guilty plea. Allen was released from custody July 10 after posting a $500 cash bond. She will next be in court Oct. 4 for a pre-trial conference.

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