IOWA CITY, Iowa — A northeastern Iowa man was charged with locking his girlfriend’s five children in a bedroom for more than 24 hours at a time without food or access to a bathroom, authorities said Monday.
Deputies who responded to a report of domestic disturbance at a home in Westgate on Friday at 9 a.m. saw several children inside crying and yelling through a window for help, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said.
The children, varying in ages from 3 to 9, told investigators they had been locked inside a bedroom by their mother’s boyfriend, Joshua Steinbronn, 28, on several occasions — sometimes for longer than 24 hours.
The room locked from the outside, and the children reported they were unable to leave. One girl told investigators she injured her leg trying to escape.
“The children stated they had to urinate into cups, clothing and baby diapers due to not being allowed to leave the locked room,” deputy James Davis wrote in a criminal complaint.
The Department of Human Services has since taken the children into its custody. Authorities continue to investigate whether their mother, who wasn’t identified, played any role in the alleged mistreatment.
Steinbronn, who was released from jail Saturday after a court appearance, didn’t immediately return a message.
He’s charged with five counts of false imprisonment and five counts of child endangerment. He’s also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after deputies found a glass pipe and a digital scale that both preliminarily tested positive for methamphetamine.