TOWANDA – A couple accused of falsely imprisoning and endangering the welfare of a 12-year-old girl in Bradford County were back in court Wednesday, but not for long.
A scheduled preliminary hearing for Mary Beth and Richard Frankenfield was postponed after some tense moments in the courtroom, all because the attorney’s couldn’t hear.
Mary Beth and Richard Frankenfield rushed into court in Bradford County. The couple was charged last month with child abuse, accused of locking a 12-year-old girl in a makeshift cage in this home in Albany Township.
But after a few heated exchanges between attorneys, the preliminary hearing was postponed.
"It was a rough situation on both sides with either hearing or speaking difficulties," said Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett.
Richard Frankenfield’s attorney couldn’t hear the district attorney or the alleged victim. The district attorney had a cold.
Inside the courtroom the 12-year-old alleged victim had just taken the stand to give testimony. Police say beginning in 2010 the girl was locked inside a makeshift cage - plywood screwed to a crib - and later locked in a four-foot bedroom closet.
It’s a case that troubled many people who knew the victim, who suffers from cerebral palsy, when they learned of the case last month.
"It's disgusting. She is such a sweet little girl. I can't believe someone would do something like that to her," said Ashley Colegrove of New Albany in June.
“Literally sick to my stomach that somebody could treat a child in need like her that way," said Dena Colegrove of New Albany in June.
Without a microphone system in the courtroom, the judge postponed the hearing and the Frankenfields left. The alleged victim walked out of the courtroom in tears after hardly answering any questions.
“She wanted to get this over today, I wanted to get it over today, everybody would like to just move things on, but we`ll be back here in a few weeks,” said District Attorney Barrett.
The district attorney says the hearing will be rescheduled, most likely within the next few weeks.
The Frankenfields are free on bail.