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Parents suspected of keeping autistic son in cage arrested and charged

Parents Tracy Trang Le, 35, and Loi Vu, 40, of Anaheim, California, were arrested on the evening of July 1 after police in Anaheim said they suspected the couple’s 11-year-old severely autistic son was being kept in a cage inside the couple’s home. The parents have been charged with suspicion of felony child endangerment and false imprisonment.

The cage was described as being like a large dog kennel.

Lt. Bob Dunn with the Anaheim Police Department said that officers from his squad were called to the couple’s home on Tuesday night to back up officials with Child Protective Services who had received a tip about the allegedly caged child. When police arrived on the scene, the couple allowed them to enter the home where the cops found “a fairly large cage — which was described as being ‘like a dog kennel’ — with a mattress inside,” according to KTLA.

The cage was described as being approximately six feet tall by five feet long and three to four feet wide. Police said there was ample standing room inside the cage.

Dunn surmised that the couple had been confining their autistic son in that cage “possibly because the boy was prone to violent outbursts.” During their preliminary investigation, police determined that the child was prone to such outbursts because of his diagnosis and that “the family was having difficulty coping with that and controlling that.” Dunn went on to say that otherwise, the child seemed to be in good physical condition, seemed to be well cared for, and didn’t show any visible signs of abuse. Dunn added:

“Putting him in that cage may have been a way for them to try to, in their way, control what was going on.”

Police couldn’t confirm how long the parents had their son confined in that cage. The 11 year old and his two siblings, ages 8 and 10, who were also found to be unharmed, were all placed under protective custody with Child Protective Services, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Child Protective Services will continue to investigate the children’s’ living conditions as the Anaheim Police Department continues with their own investigation.

"Obviously, putting your child in a locked cage, even if you're desperate for help, is not the best course of action," Dunn said, noting there are resources available for families in that kind of situation.

For more on the story, see the video accompanying this article.

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