The father of 10 children removed from their California home after police say they were found living among feces and garbage — where they were abused and even tortured — has defended himself in a jailhouse interview with local media.
“I’m not a cruel dad,” Jonathan Allen told TV station KCRA from behind bars in Solano County, in an interview published on Tuesday. “I may look like X, Y, Z but I am not a cruel dad whatsoever. I am the most loving parent that I could possibly be.”
“It wasn’t until personal family issues, personal family vendettas, that accusations like this and on other family members took place,” he said. “I want the police to know that I’m not an animal.”
Allen, 29, was arrested on Friday, after a six-week investigation following the discovery of his children living in what authorities described as “squalor,” according to jail records and a Fairfield police news release.
The children’s mother — and Allen’s wife — Ina Rogers, 30, was also arrested and booked into the Solano County Jail on suspicion of child neglect on March 31. She was released after posting $10,000 bail on April 9 and appeared in court on Wednesday.
Allen is charged with seven counts of felony torture and nine counts of felony child abuse, according to jail records, while Rogers faces child neglect charges.
Solano County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sharon Henry said the alleged abuse was done with a “sadistic purpose,” according to The Washington Post.
“Based upon what the children stated in their interviews, we believe torture occurred in this house,” she reportedly said.
When asked how he was doing following his arrest, Allen told KCRA, “It is extraordinarily hard. At first they took my kids and then they took my wife and now they took me.”
The children were recovered after the couple’s 12-year-old son left home on March 31. After locating and returning the boy, officers searched the family’s residence out of concern for the child’s safety, according to the police news release.
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During the search, officers found nine other children, ranging in age from 4 months to 11 years old, living in what police described as “squalor and unsafe conditions,” the news release alleges.
Fairfield Police Lt. Greg Hurlbut said during a news conference on Monday that feces, garbage and rotten food littered the floor of the home, according to local station KNTV.
The investigation following Rogers’ arrest in March uncovered “a long and continuous history of severe physical and emotional abuse of the children,” police alleged, KNTV reports.
On Monday, Rogers spoke to reporters outside the family’s two-story, four bedroom home, calling her and her husband great parents and the accusations against them “ludicrous.”
“There’s no broken bones, there is no major scars, nothing,” she said. “My kids get bumped and bruised and scratched because they’re kids, but that’s it.” She said all of her children preferred to sleep together in one room.
“My husband has a lot of tattoos. He looks like a scary individual, and that’s why people are so quick to judge him,” she said.
She said her oldest child ran away after she took away his tablet as a punishment and that their home was messy due to their frantic search for him.
From jail, Allen said their children lived happy lives.
“They had a normal life except for being … home schooled. They have a normal life. I gave my everything to these children — my everything,” he told KCRA.
Asked to respond to specific allegations of abuse, Allen said, “They [his children] would say this because they are brainwashed, because they are still children. Look at the other cases: People have been proven to brainwash children. People have been proven to implant items into children’s brains. Any doctor would be able to look at these kids — that’s why I don’t even know why I’m in here.”
The Post reported that Allen pleaded not guilty in court on Monday. He is being held in lieu of $5 million bail. Rogers pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday, according to local media.
Attorney information for the couple was unavailable on Wednesday.
“I want to tell [my children] that I love them and that this will pass,” Allen told KCRA. “They know, they know daddy. They’re just babies. I don’t even know what to tell them.”