News9.com and Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9
EL RENO, Oklahoma – A Yukon couple accused of beating and torturing their adopted children cried in a Canadian County courtroom as their adopted son testified about the abuse he suffered.
Prosecutors have charged John and Sonja Kluth with six counts of child abuse and neglect. A judge ruled Wednesday there was sufficient probable cause and bound both over for trial.
Investigators said the couple beat their adopted children until they lost consciousness, burned them, locked them in dog crates and fed them dog food. Court records showed the abuse began in January 2009.
The couple's 16-year-old adopted son testified at Wednesday's hearing. He said he ran away on a cold, winter day because of the abuse. Prosecutor Paul Hess pointed out the temperature was 26 degrees that day, and the boy left the home without a coat.
The 16-year-old testified he was not allowed to call the Kluths mom and dad; he was ordered to call them ma'am and sir. He said Sonja Kluth would often encourage him to commit suicide.
The teen told the court that for eight months, he was kept inside a storm shelter each night with nothing but two plastic lawn chairs and a bucket that he and his 11-year-old adopted brother had to use as a bathroom. He said his adopted father, John Kluth, would padlock the doors at night.
The boy said there was no light in the cellar, and there were no blankets or pillows to sleep on. He said at one time, he was locked in the cellar for 24 hours.
The boy testified he and his adopted sibling were let out of the cellar during the day, and home schooled by Sonja Kluth. When the Kluths left the home, the kids were monitored by motion detectors in the house.
The boy told the court he was given food and water, but was sometimes fed dog or cat food. He said if he performed his chores wrong or had an accident in his pants, the Kluths would not feed him at all. He said on average, breakfast was withheld five days a week.
The teen testified punishment included harsh spankings, and being forced to run around a track while carrying heavy bricks. He said they were also abused with heated-up spoons and toothbrushes. He said his adopted father would also strangle him with a towel, and both his adopted parents would curse and yell at him, and call him worthless.
The boy testified sometimes he was so hungry, he would steal food in the house, and that's when he would have to endure the punishments. He said Sonja Kluth once punished him for stealing food by cutting his fingernails so short his fingers bled.
The teen also said the Kluths kept a dog crate in the guest bathroom, and would lock him and his adopted brother inside. They were given a small plastic bucket to relieve themselves in.
The teen also has an adopted sister. He said she was abused, as well, but not as severely as the boys.