Ga. Tech star and wife up for bond in Gwinnett child cruelty case

A former Georgia Tech football star and his wife will again get a chance for bond Tuesday in a case in which they’re accused of locking their child in the basement for months.

The couple goes before Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers at 2:30 p.m. in hopes that she will impose the bond that a Gwinnett magistrate refused to grant last month.

They are charged with malicious child cruelty and false imprisonment.

Recardo and Therian Wimbush isolated their oldest child to discipline him and to protect their other nine children because the now 13-year-old boy had admitted to improperly touching his siblings, said Dwight Thomas, a lawyer for 37-year-old Therian.

He and Teri Thompson, who represents 33-year-old Recardo, argued at a July 10 hearing that their clients were excellent candidates for bond; they noted the boy was in a good physical and mental health as were their other kids. The Wimbushes home schooled their children, which is why school authorities never raised questions about the 13-year-old.

Chief Magistrate Christina Blum, however, sided with the prosecutor who said he feared the Wimbushes might get access to their children while on bond.

Blum noted the Wimbushes seemingly stellar educational backgrounds contrasted with the charges —- the implication that of all people they should have known better —- made her even more uncomfortable with bond. Therian has dual degrees in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and Spelman College. Recardo completed his degree at Georgia Tech after his athletic career ended.

“It is interesting to me this duality in their lives, ” Blum said. “And I am disturbed by the facts I’ve heard today.”

At the July hearing, social workers and police contended the Buford couple kept their 13-year-old son locked away from his siblings in a way that was maliciously cruel. The child had no access to toys, the 80-square-foot area was dark at night because no light bulb was in the fixture, when social workers investigated an anonymous complaint on June 16, testified Felicia Churchill, an special-victim investigator with the Gwinnett police.

The boy believed his punishment was deserved because he had been disobedient and lied to his mother about taking a DVD and a book to the room before it was locked, Churchill said. He acknowledged being whipped with a belt for inappropriately touching his siblings but did not remember any bruising.

The picture did not square with the one familiar to friends of the Wimbushes or with an undated website that depicts seemingly happy, smiling kids and the importance of religion to the family and its devotion to “Yah, ” a derivative of Yahweh.

The Wimbushes ground their faith in the Old Testament and are strong disciplinarians, Thomas said.

They have been married since their Georgia Tech days when Recardo was a football star and team captain in 2002. He tried out for the Atlanta Falcons but did not make the team.

Therian, who was honorably discharged from the Navy, also privately tutored other children.

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