US woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for starving her adopted children in cages

A US woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for abusing her adopted son. The woman was keeping the 17-year-old boy in a cage at her home.

The woman, Brenda Sullivan, pleaded guilty in January to three counts of aggravated child abuse. The woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday, May 22, after prosecutors agreed to drop lesser child neglect charges.

The teen boy weighed only 49 pounds (22kilos) when child welfare officers found him in 2005. The woman said that the boy was suffering from severe medical and emotional problems and that Ohio authorities told her to keep the boy in a crib.

"There's only one conclusion when you look at the medical evidence in this case, and that is that she literally starved him," prosecutor Julie Schlax said.

Two other children, 13-year-old twins the Sullivans adopted as infants, both testified they were kept in similar cages.

Sullivan's husband was also arrested, but died in January 2007 while awaiting trial.

Sullivan's lawyer, Charles Fletcher, said he didn't think prison was the right option because she does not pose a threat to society. He said they would appeal the sentence.