Couple sentenced for abusing, neglecting their teenage son

  • In US
  • 2022-11-30 11:30:35Z
  • By The Des Moines Register

A Des Moines couple accused of neglecting their special-needs son have both been sentenced after pleading guilty to reduced charges.

Richard, 48, and Jennifer Ryan, 49, both were charged in April 2021 with kidnapping, neglect of a dependent person and other offenses after their teenage son was found restrained at his mother's workplace. Police say the teen, described in court filings as mentally disabled and unable to care for himself, was found zip-tied by ankle and belt loop to a chair next to Jennifer Ryan's desk. The 16-year-old teen was found to be severely malnourished and weighed only 78 lbs when taken to a hospital for treatment.

Investigators alleged that the teen had for months been confined to, and often restrained in, his bedroom, denied meals and access to a restroom, and punished if he was found to have snuck more food or to have urinated in his bedroom. He was allegedly beaten and thrown around by his parents, and had bone deformities believed to be caused by wearing too-small shoes over an extended period.

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According to court filings, the abuse began around October 2019 and continued until police were contacted in February 2021. Richard Ryan pleaded guilty in January to false imprisonment, neglect of a dependent person and two counts of child endangerment. In a written plea filing to the false imprisonment charge, he suggested his wife was the instigator, writing that he knew Jennifer Ryan was using zip ties to restrain the teen against his will, and did nothing to prevent the restraint.

In April, he was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison. Court records show he had asked the court to reconsider that sentence, but no hearing has yet been held.

His wife, Jennifer Ryan, pleaded guilty this month to reduced charges of false imprisonment and neglect of a dependent person. She admitted in court filings that she had used zip ties to restrain the teen, whom she had adopted, while he was taking online classes in February 2021 "so he couldn't get up and wander around."

On Nov. 7, she was sentenced to three years probation in lieu of 10 years in prison, as well as $1,800 in fines.

Attorney Jennifer Frese, who represented both Ryans, did not return a message seeking comment.

William Morris covers courts for the Des Moines Register. He can be contacted at, 715-573-8166 or on Twitter at @DMRMorris.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Parents of neglected Des Moines teen son sentenced


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