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Abuse suspect released on bond
Apr 07, 2005 12:00 am
A woman accused of keeping her teenage stepson under lock and chain while his weight dwindled to a mere 50 pounds tasted freedom herself on Tuesday for the first time since her September arrest.
Christie H. Osborne, 28, who along with her husband is charged with child abuse and neglect in the highly publicized case, was freed under $50,000 bond posted by Tidwell Bonding Co., records show.
Along with her husband, 42-year-old James C. Osborne III, she has been held in a state Department of Corrections facility since a mysterious letter to the Wilson County Jail caused officials to become concerned for the couple's safety.
The two were arrested Sept. 22 after Lebanon police received a complaint of possible abuse against the child, who was hospitalized after being freed from the home and is now in the custody of the state Department of Children's Services.
A closed court custody hearing for his three siblings – Christie Osborne's biological children – is expected to resume in the near future. The three appeared to be healthy and well-cared for at the time their stepbrother was freed from his bondage, authorities said.
At the time of the couple's arrest, police quoted Christie Osborne as saying the teen was kept locked and chained to a bed in the couple's room because he was a "troublemaker."
"Her statement to us was that her son was a troublemaker and that's what all this is about," Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen said at the time of the couple's arrest.
However during a bond hearing for the pair held shortly after they were charged, Christie Osborne took the witness stand to portray herself and her husband as a youth softball coach and "team mom" who are "very involved" in the "schooling" of their children.
"I don't feel like I'm a threat," she said from the witness stand in response to one question.
She also testified that one of the reasons she was seeking release on bond was to care for the couple's three remaining children.
"I don't see why I shouldn't," Osborne replied when Assistant District Attorney Jason Lawson asked if she planned to care for the children herself if released from custody.
Her husband also testified during the bond hearing, telling Judge Robert Hamilton of various hardships the couple was forced to endure after being charged in the case and also citing their children as a primary reason for hoping to be released from custody.
"I want to get my house back in order and get a place ready for my kids to live," he testified.
However Hamilton refused to reduce the $50,000 bond set for each of the couple, with Lawson arguing that the amount was "specifically set" for child abuse cases by the state legislature.
At the time the couple was charged, police said James Osborne gave investigators a statement basically confirming the allegations against the pair.
"The father said he would get home before his wife, unchain him long enough to let him go to the bathroom, then chain him right back up before his wife got home," Bowen said.
The case marked one of several high profile child abuse cases which brought DCS officials under scrutiny, with the agency forced to defend its decision not to remove the teen from the home when investigating a previous claim of abuse against him.
Officials with the agency said case workers could find no physical evidence to substantiate the earlier claims of abuse despite a physical examination of the youth.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at email@example.com.