Former Tech star Wimbush enters not guilty plea in child abuse case

A former Georgia Tech football star pleaded has pleaded not guilty to felony child-abuse charges that stem from his punishing his son by imprisoning him in the basement.

Recardo and Therian Wimbush have maintained they were properly disciplining their then 13-year-old and also protecting their other nine children from him.

Both have been in the Gwinnett County jail since their arrest in June after social workers discovered the lock on a small room in the basement of their Buford home.

Recardo’s lawyer Teri Thompson said Friday that she still hasn’t decided whether to appeal a judge’s order that the couple be held without bail. She was concerned that her client’s trial could be delayed because his wife was unable to plead on Thursday because she had fired her legal team.

The case shocked metro Atlanta and Georgia Tech fans when the Wimbushes were arrested in June. Recardo, 33, had been a captain on the 2002 team, was well remembered by teammates and was a supervisor in a railroad yard. Therian Wimbush, 37, who earned duel degrees from Tech and Spelman, did private tutoring. Both married in college where they started their large family.

In August, Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers, became the second judge to deny bond for the couple.

"These defendants are in fact a risk of influencing witnesses," Beyers said at the August hearing. "The evidence at the preliminary hearing was chilling."

Beyers said her decision was influenced by the fact that the family appeared so well-educated, accomplished, and high functioning which contrasted so severely with the conditions in which their then 13-year-old son was found. The children are in the custody of state social workers.

Police contend they kept their son locked up in the basement for two years. The room had a jar for urination and a mattress. The boy was found in relatively good health and told authorities he deserved the punishment for taking family property. The Wimbushes said he also improperly touched some of his sibilings.

The teenager was one of three children they had while at Georgia Tech where Wimbush was a linebacker captain of the football team during his 2002 senior season. According to a news story at the time, Therian was a tutor when they met before she was graduated in 2000. Recardo was described as a diaper-changing dad who got furloughs from team duties to be with his family.

“I knew I always wanted kids, ” he then told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They bring a bright spot to your heart, and they have with me.”