Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Lesbians convicted of child abuse lose appeal

A woman and her partner have lost their appeal to retract their guilty pleas to abusing their six children.
Mary Rowles, 32, and Alice Jenkins, 29, both of Kenmore, Ohio, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison. The women pleaded guilty in October 2003 to kidnapping, child endangering, felonious assault, and other charges. The ninth Ohio district court of appeals on Wednesday also denied a request by Jenkins and Rowles to have their prison sentences decreased. Attorneys for both women say they will appeal their case to the Ohio supreme court.

The women were arrested after three of Rowles's boys--ages 8, 10, and 14--were found malnourished and wandering city streets in April 2003. Police said the boys described being forced to live in a closet that reeked of urine, with the only light coming in at the bottom of the door. Rowles is the biological mother to each of the five boys and a girl. Prosecutors alleged Jenkins was responsible for the abuse and that Rowles didn't protect the children.

Before they were sentenced by Summit County common pleas judge Patricia Cosgrove, the women tried to take back their plea and take their case to trial. The women's attorneys said they wanted to call an expert who then refused to testify. Cosgrove gave the women a one-week delay to find another expert and refused to allow the pleas to be withdrawn when an expert couldn't be found. Attorneys argued in their appeals that the women should be allowed to withdraw their pleas. They also argued that Cosgrove's sentences exceeded the statutory maximum. The appellate court dismissed both claims in a 3-0 decision. The court ruled that Cosgrove's sentence was within Ohio's sentencing laws. (AP)

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