Judge Denies Request from Foster Mom Who Locked Kids in Cages

Sylvia Vasquez Asked that Her Fine and Probation Terms Be Reduced

Sylvia Vasquez (May, 2007)
Paul Wellman

Judge Frank Ochoa refused Sylvia Vasquez’s request that he cut in half both her fine and her term of probation in connection with her felony conviction five years ago on child endangerment charges regarding four foster children she kept in her home.

Vasquez gained considerable notoriety when it was discovered that she’d been locking some of her four foster kids in cages and giving them buckets and outdoor showers in lieu of bathroom access. Another — a violin prodigy — had been injected with growth retarding hormones to keep her in a perpetually prepubescent state. Vasquez — who also ran a popular day care facility out of her home — argued at the time that several of her foster children suffered from such severe emotional attachment disorders that they posed a physical and sexual threat to the others and had to be locked up.

Vasquez was in court Monday asking Judge Ochoa to reduce her felony conviction to a misdemeanor, expunge her record, and cut in half the 10 years of probation to which she was sentenced as well as the $10,000 in restitution she was ordered to pay. Acting as her own attorney, Vasquez said she could not obtain work given her criminal record, that her home had been foreclosed upon, and that she’d stayed out of trouble with the law. Vasquez spent about half a year in County Jail, and since her release she has done missionary work in Mexico.

During the trial, it emerged that state foster care officials had reason to be concerned Vasquez was psychologically unfit to be a foster parent but was allowed to “adopt” especially challenging kids anyway. Since her conviction, at least one of the locked up foster kids — now an adult — was found guilty for raping a woman in a public elevator in downtown Santa Barbara. In declining Vasquez’s request that her probation be commuted, Judge Ochoa argued her crime had been too heinous and the damage inflicted too egregious.


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