GREENFIELD — A Charlottesville couple whose underweight son was labeled by doctors as malnourished pleaded guilty to neglect but will regain custody of their children, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Andrew Swafford, 37, and Ashley Swafford, 30, who were accused of underfeeding their young son, Revan, accepted plea agreements Wednesday that called for each to plead guilty to a Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent.
A judge sentenced Andrew Swafford to serve five months on home detention followed by 18 months on probation; Ashley Swafford will also serve 18 months on probation.
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The plea deal also lifted a no-contact order that had barred the couple from seeing Revan and the four other children living in their home since their arrest in April — something they’ve been fighting for since the case first hit the court docket, Andrew Swafford said.
Family members had been caring for the children at the home while the Swaffords stayed with friends, they said.
Though he and his wife both admitted to a judge they “provided a lack of support,” as the plea agreement reads, to Revan, who was born premature, Andrew Swafford told the Daily Reporter they signed the plea agreement because they hoped it would return their lives to normal.
“I’m relieved,” Andrew Swafford said. “It means we don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Prosecutors filed charges against the Swaffords in April after the Indiana Department of Child Services investigated a tip from a caller who was concerned about the weight of the couple’s youngest son, Revan.
The 15-month-old boy weighed less than 15 pounds — the weight a healthy 3½-month-old would be, police noted in their reports.
The couple was told by a caseworker Revan needed to be seen by a doctor immediately because he appeared to be severely malnourished, court documents state.
The Swaffords obeyed the request and visited a doctor’s office a few days later. They were told to take the baby immediately to Riley Hospital of Children for further care, court documents state.
Doctors at Riley determined Revan suffered from iron deficiency, dehydration and vitamin D deficiency, court documents state.
The child had not seen a doctor during his first year of life. Doctors told police the couple fed him only 30 ounces of breast milk a day, though the Swaffords said Revan was also eating solids foods, and he rarely went to the doctor because they believed such visits were unnecessary if a child didn’t show signs of illness.
Revan always had been small because he was born premature, his parents told the Daily Reporter. He stayed small because of the family’s dedication to eating only lean, organic, healthy foods, they said.
The Swaffords were each charged with a Level 5 felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in injury along with a Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent. The Level 5 felony count was reduced to a lesser charge, and the Level 6 dismissed as part of the agreement.