The Associated Press, May 22, 1999

Owner of Makeshift Youth Home Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) -- A man who operated a makeshift home for troubled families with his wife has pleaded guilty to abusing a 10-year-old boy who authorities said was locked in a box and repeatedly beaten.

Francis Beaugureau, 43, and his wife Robin, 38, were arrested in December for the alleged harsh treatment of needy children and parents at the couple's Emmanuel Marantha Youth Ranch, an unlicensed facility on four ramshackle acres of rocky, barren range land east of Casper.

The Beaugureaus shared food, shelter and religious beliefs with those who sought refuge there in exchange for help with chores. But families later told authorities that the couple were frequently abusive disciplinarians.

Beaugureau faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Friday to locking a 10-year-old boy in a small metal box in the couple's closet every night for a month as punishment for sneaking food. Authorities said the boy was also beaten repeatedly between July 1995 and October 1996.

Mrs. Beaugureau has pleaded innocent to related charges and is awaiting trial pending the completion of psychological tests. Prosecutors allege she sometimes used a belt, a plastic bat and cooking spoons to beat the boy's mother, and is also charged with abusing a 13-year-old girl who told authorities she was hit "too many times to count" in January 1997.

The Beaugureaus each remain free on $5,000 bond. A sentencing date for Beaugureau has not been set.

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