Therian and Recardo Wimbush at a 2014 hearing.
Photo: Hyosub Shin/AJC
Photo: Hyosub Shin/AJC

A closer look at the child cruelty charges against ex-Tech star, wife

Therian and Recardo Wimbush met at Georgia Tech in August of 1999 — she a scholarship student and a tutor, he a freshman linebacker for the football team.

By November, she was carrying their first son. They’d get married, have nine more kids, move to Gwinnett County — and, years later, according to police, keep their oldest boy locked in a basement room for at least 18 months.

The Wimbushes have made national headlines since their 2014 arrest, thanks to both the nature of the allegations against them and the actions of Therian, who has served as her own attorney and filed dozens of motions and legal actions in the time she and her husband have been incarcerated. 

The couple is due in court later this month for what’s expected to be two days of motion hearings. In the meantime, find below a closer look at the seven counts of child cruelty filed against them — charges that cover the well-publicized alleged imprisonment of one son and the recently discovered cancer of another. 

All offenses are alleged to have taken place between Jan. 1, 2013, and July 15, 2014. All of the Wimbush children are currently in state custody.

Count 1: Cruelty to children, first degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ oldest son

Alleged action: Causing the boy “cruel and excessive mental pain by confining said child in a room for months without sufficient mental stimulation and social interaction.”

More information: Police and prosecutors believe the boy, 13 at the time of his parents’ arrest, was kept isolated from his nine siblings in a basement bedroom. The room contained only a dirty mattress and a jar for urinating, and the only window had been painted over, according to authorities.

The child “said he would listen to the other children upstairs and imagine he was a part of what they were doing,” a social worker said during a 2015 hearing. “That is how he passed his time.”

Count 2: Cruelty to children, first degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ oldest son

Alleged action: Causing the boy “cruel and excessive physical pain by failing to provide physical exercise.”

More information: Authorities have said the boy was occasionally permitted to leave his basement bedroom, but only for short periods of time and generally just to use the bathroom.

The boy reportedly told police he was being punished for "taking the family DVD player and lying about it." Therian Wimbush has also claimed the child inappropriately touched a female sibling.

Count 3: Cruelty to children, second degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ oldest son

Alleged action: Same as Count 1.

More information: Second-degree cruelty to children alleges criminal negligence, as opposed to the “malicious” intent involved with first-degree child cruelty. 

Second-degree charges carry a possible sentence of one to 10 years, while first-degree charges carry a possible sentence of five to 20 years.

Count 4: Cruelty to children, second degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ oldest son

Alleged action: Same as Count 2.

More information: Both first- and second-degree cruelty to children charges can be filed for the same or similar alleged offenses.

Count 5: Cruelty to children, first degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ oldest son

Alleged action: “Willfully” depriving the boy of “necessary sustenance” in the form of Vitamin D, “to the extent that the child’s health was jeopardized.”

More information: Police have said the boy was fed regularly while allegedly being held captive, but have not provided specifics about what he was fed. 

The boy also had little exposure to sunlight. 

Count 6: Cruelty to children, first degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ second-oldest son

Alleged action: Causing the boy “cruel and excessive physical and mental pain by failing to seek medical care for abdominal skin cancer.” 

More information: Authorities have mentioned the cancer found on another Wimbush son’s stomach as far back as March 2015, but last month’s indictment is the first time criminal charges have been filed in connection with it. 

The skin cancer was visible on the child’s stomach “for several years,” officials have said, but was only diagnosed after he was taken into state care. 

Count 7: Cruelty to children, second degree

Alleged victim: The Wimbushes’ second-oldest son

Alleged action: Same as Count 6.

More information: The boy’s prognosis is unclear. His exact age was also not available. 

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