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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student


Police: Ariz. girl escapes virtual prison in home

A 14-year-old Phoenix girl was fed once every day or two, maybe some crackers or a can of food, police said.

She was locked in a bathroom without running water for two months, forced to use a bucket instead of a toilet, police said. She told police her father beat her with metal rods and belts. And her bed? A blanket on the tile floor.

Authorities say the malnourished girl managed to escape her virtual prison, and her father and stepmother were arrested for investigation of child abuse, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

"No one on this earth needs to be treated the way this child was treated," Phoenix police Officer Luis Samudio said.

Police said Wednesday that Scott and Andrea Bass were arrested Feb. 4 after the girl's escape.

Andrea Bass, 31, who was released from custody Tuesday after posting a $36,000 bond, did not return a message left at her home. And the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office did not respond to a request Wednesday to interview Scott Bass, 33, who remained jailed on a $45,000 bond.

Samudio said when police arrived at the girl's home to interview Scott Bass, he thought the girl was still in the bathroom and was "visibly surprised" when he unlocked the door and she was gone.

The girl had escaped through the attic and rode her bike to a nearby movie theater, where a concerned couple gave her $50, police said. She then rode about 13 miles to a Phoenix strip mall and bought water, food, a backpack and clothes because she hadn't been allowed to change for weeks, Samudio said.

After that, the girl rode to a coffee shop in Scottsdale, where she asked an employee to call police.

Inside the bathroom where the girl was kept, police found a 5-gallon bucket containing human waste and a blanket on the floor that served as the girl's bed, according to a probable-cause statement released Wednesday.

Scott Bass told investigators he locked his daughter in the bathroom because she stole food from the kitchen and cheated on a home-school test, according to the document.

The document said Andrea Bass told investigators she didn't know that the girl was locked in the bathroom.

The girl told police her father gave her cans of food, crackers or bread every one to two days, but that she was constantly hungry. A medical evaluation showed the girl was in the 25th percentile for weight and the 50th percentile for height among girls her age.

The girl said her father forced her to exercise until she was exhausted and if she stopped, he beat her with belts and metal rods or pulled her up by her hair.

The girl also told police that in a previous home, her father and stepmother forced her to sleep on an outdoor patio for five months, locked her in a closet for a week, and locked her in a bathroom for a week.

The girl, who was evaluated and released from a hospital, was in the custody of Child Protective Services. Four other children living in the Bass' home, who police said showed no signs of abuse or similar treatment, also were in CPS custody.

Samudio said the girl and her 12-year-old brother were from Scott Bass' previous marriage, and that three girls — ages 3, 4 and 11 — were Scott and Andrea Bass' children.

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