JUPITER, Fla. (TCD) -- A jury found a man guilty last week of abusing his adopted son and confining him to a windowless room in his garage with nothing but a bucket, desk, and mattress.
Palm Beach County court records show Tim Ferriter was convicted Oct. 12 of aggravated child abuse, false imprisonment, and neglect of a child. Assistant Palm Beach County State Attorney Brianna Coakley said prosecutors are "very happy with the verdict."
According to WPTV-TV, the victim testified at Ferriter's trial and said he never wanted to be locked in the room and stuck there, saying it was "dehumanizing." However, he said he did not "have a bad image" of Ferriter and his wife, Tracy, who is awaiting trial on the same charges.
The teen said, "They just made a mistake. They were just acting out of frantic surprise of my actions," and that they "weren't trying to do any harm."
Forensic psychologist Dr. Sheila Rapp testified at Ferriter's trial and said the victim suffers from reactive attachment disorder. She said she does not "believe that they were malicious in so far as they were deliberately trying to abuse and hurt their child."
A different psychologist. Dr. Wade Myers, however, said on the stand, "It was a longstanding pattern of harsh, cruel and demeaning actions toward this child, as well as close to three years of essentially solitary confinement when he was not in school, as well as really sadistic punishments while he was locked away in the room."
The Palm Beach Post reports Tim Ferriter was offered a plea deal that would have required two years in prison with five years of probation, but he rejected it.
On Jan. 30, 2022, Jupiter Police responded to a home about a missing runaway and found an "8x8 structure within the garage that was described by the mother as a small office." The structure had a deadbolt on it and locked from the outside, while inside, there was only a mattress, bucket, and camera. Police located the boy at school and learned he had been "forcibly confined" and locked in the structure since at least 2017.
Tracy and Tim Ferriter, his adoptive parents, allowed him to go to school, but he was reportedly locked inside the structure when he returned. Jupiter Police said his parents would bring him food and made him use the bucket as his toilet.
The Ferriters were arrested in February 2022.
According to Tim Ferriter's arrest affidavit, the boy said Ferriter once "slammed him against a wall by his neck and struck him in the face with an open hand." Other abuse included Tim Ferriter spitting in the boy's face and spanking him with a belt. Most of the teen's meals consisted of leftovers, the affidavit says.
The victim said the abuse "happened a lot in Arizona" when they lived there for about five years.
The Palm Beach Post reports Ferriter plans to appeal the verdict.