Source AP ©

Father gets 4 years of imprisonment for putting boy in cage

Court accused a father of punishing his 10-year-old son by locking him in a small dog cage sentenced him to four years in prison.

The boy, at times, had to wear a remote-controlled shock collar and was repeatedly zapped by the device, meant to train animals, police said.

John Westover, 37, made his son sit in the cramped cage for several hours when the boy did not behave, said his attorney, Jack Viren.

Westover told the boy, "If you don't behave, this is what jail is going to be like," Viren said.

Westover's judgment was clouded by his drug use, Viren said. Westover indicated to the judge that he understands what he did was wrong, the lawyer said.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but means the defendant will not fight the charges.

The boy escaped the home with his 5-year-old brother, running away while his father was out and his mother was dancing at a strip club. He told officers that he was tired of being put in a dog cage, police said.

Westover had been scheduled to go to trial next week.

The boy's mother, Jessica Botzko, was sentenced to four years in prison this month after pleading no contest to child endangerment.

Officers found a collapsible cage and the shock collar in the couple's mobile home. The cage, less than 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall and wide, had a chain across the top with two locks on each end, police said.

The boys have been turned over to Lucas County children's services and were placed with another family.

Another Ohio couple, Michael and Sharen Gravelle of Norwalk, were convicted in December of child abuse and endangerment for keeping some of their 11 special-needs adopted children in wire and wood enclosures.

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