Florida Children’s Book Author, Husband Accused Of Abusing Their Three Adopted Kids

The two girls and boy were regularly doused with water and “left to sleep in that condition overnight,” according to an arrest report.

January 28, 2021

Jennifer and Joseph Wolfthal [KTTV/Seminole County Sheriff's Office]

Jennifer and Joseph Wolfthal [KTTV/Seminole County Sheriff's Office]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A children’s book author and her software analyst husband are accused of horrific child abuse after he brought their adopted 8-year-old girl to the hospital on New Year’s Day for treatment of infected leg wounds, double pneumonia, renal and liver failure, sepsis and a staph infection, Florida police said.

Seminole County deputies arrested Jennifer Wolfthal, 41, the same day and charged her with child abuse, child neglect with great bodily harm, and domestic violence battery. They rearrested her this week on new charges of false imprisonment.

Joseph Wolfthal, 39, appeared before a judge Tuesday on charges of child neglect with great bodily harm, aggravated child abuse, and false imprisonment of a child under 13.

Law enforcement officials conducting a wellness check at the family’s Casselberry home in early January allegedly discovered two other minors — reportedly a boy, 9, and an 11-year-old girl — who were malnourished, bruised and with open wounds and skin infections, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The children were placed in foster care after receiving treatment, while the first child remains hospitalized.

According to Orlando’s WFTV, the Wolfthals recently filed for divorce. Investigators said in an arrest report that Joseph claimed his wife, author of the book A Real Friend, “conducts all of the discipline” as the children’s sole caregiver and he was fearful of her.

The arrest report, obtained by the Sentinel, states one of the children told investigators that her adoptive parents “would take turns discipling them” — punishment she claimed included spankings with an object “in the same spot to the point of drawing blood.”

Among other abuse allegations, the report continues, the three children, who the couple adopted in 2014, would be doused with water while in beds fitted with only plastic mattress covers and pillows and were “left to sleep in that condition overnight.”

Investigators wrote the minors lived in extreme isolation. The report claims one girl said she had not seen other adults in years and “spent virtually all of her time locked alone in her bedroom,” where she “tried to keep track of the days and months by counting in her head,” the Sentinel reported.

According to the report, one child said some reasons she received punishments were because she “couldn’t stop sinning,” would wet the bed or refused to eat sporadic meals that consisted of a “mixture of bran flakes cereal, water and vegetable puree.”

A judge set Joseph Wolfthal’s bond at $210,000. Jennifer Wolfthal is currently being held without bond.

Read more: WKMG-TV

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