Melissa Joan Hope
Taunton Police Department
October 02, 2018 11:59 AM

Authorities in Massachusetts are investigating a Taunton couple after receiving a report about children allegedly living in squalor — including an allegation that children were kept in cages.

A news release from the Taunton police obtained by PEOPLE states that officers assisting workers from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families arrived at the couple’s home Sunday to look into “an anonymous report about three children allegedly living in squalor.”

Three children were removed from the home, according to the release.

The Taunton Daily Gazette obtained a copy of an arrest report for Melissa Jean Hope, who faces a single assault and battery charge after she allegedly attacked a police officer. The arrest report states the children were removed from the apartment because of allegations of “both neglect and abuse consisting of a variety of specifics which included sexual assault and the keeping of children in cages.”

But Hope’s husband denied the allegations and said police officers were the aggressors against his wife.

“The Taunton Police Department kicked my door in like I’m a drug dealer,” Matthew Hope told NECN. “They proceeded to assault my wife and make falsified charges.”

The police report obtained by the Gazette alleges the couple allegedly shouted obscenities at police from an open window and refused to let police into their apartment “without a warrant.”

Police officers at the scene followed through on an order to break down the door and ordered the couple to sit on the floor, according to the police statement.

“After entering the apartment, a Taunton officer was allegedly assaulted by [Melissa] Hope, and Hope was immediately placed under arrest,” the statement continues.

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According to the Gazette, Hope allegedly grabbed an officer in the “area of his throat and neck” and pushed him with a “significant amount of force,” the incident report states.

The couple has not been charged in connection with the alleged treatment of the children.  

Melissa Hope has pleaded not guilty and was freed without bail. PEOPLE’s call to her lawyer, Lynn Porreca, were not immediately returned.

PEOPLE’s attempts to reach the couple were unsuccessful Tuesday.

When asked if more charges would be forthcoming, a Taunton Police spokeswoman replied, “This remains an active and ongoing investigation.”

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