Abused child in the closet showed great courage
The Kansas City Star
An anonymous call to the Missouri Children’s Division’s child abuse hotline likely saved the life of the 10-year-old Kansas City girl known so far only as “LP.” She weighed just 32 pounds and apparently was locked in a filthy closet for perhaps days on end.
But the child, weak and abused as she was, is the true hero of the story. When a police officer entered her mother’s apartment and called out, “Is anyone in here,” she answered “yes.”
What we know from awful child abuse cases of the past — and there have been too many in Kansas City, as columnist Mary Sanchez relates here — is that adults go to great trouble to hide these kids. They are emotionally as well as physically abused and they know that the consequences of speaking up for themselves can be terrible.
But this girl did.
When police arrested LP’s mother, 29-year-old Jacole Prince, they found her with two other daughters. Unlike LP, they appeared clean and well fed.
How hard must it have been for LP to be starved and locked away, like a non-person, surely knowing that other children in the household were treated as though they mattered. Which makes the child’s response on Friday all the more extraordinary.
“Is anyone in here?”
She is somebody, and she knew it.
We will find out in the weeks to come how Prince, who is charged with assault, abuse of a child and endangering a child’s welfare, was able to conceal LP for as long as she did. We will learn whether adults who should have helped LP failed to do so. We may even learn who it was who made the life-saving call to the child abuse hotline.
But we know now that terrible abuse was not enough to keep the little girl from summoning the strength to save herself.