'Not Racist': Family Defends Couple Who Used Black Adopted Kids As 'Slaves'

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Loved ones are defending the West Virginia couple who allegedly used their Black adopted children as "slaves," locking them in a barn and forcing them to perform farm labor.

Donald Ray Lantz, 63, and Jeanne Kay Whitefeather, 62, were initially arrested in October following a wellness check during which authorities found two of the couple's five adopted children, who are Black, locked in a shed on their Sissonville property.

Authorities said the shed only had a small porta-potty and no running water. A 16-year-old child told authorities that she had been locked in the building for roughly 12 hours and was last given food at around 6 a.m.

A 14-year-old boy was found with "open sores on his bare feet." Both children were dirty and smelled of body order, according to authorities.

The teenagers also stated that they were forced to sleep on the concrete floor without a mattress or padding.

In court, Whitefeather claimed that the shed was a "teenage clubhouse" and the children weren't locked inside. However, “Neighbors also reported that the children were forced to perform farm labor and were not permitted inside the residence,” court documents state.

The couple's indictment alleges they specifically targeted the Black children and forced them to work because of their race.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers said she's never seen an indictment like it in her career.

“It alleges human trafficking, human rights violations, the use of forced labor,” Akers said. “Human rights violations specific to the fact that these children were targeted because of their race and they were used basically as slaves from what the indictment alleges.”

Lantz and Whitefeather have pleaded not guilty to several charges including human trafficking of a minor child, use of a minor child in forced labor, and child neglect creating substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death.

According to Daily Mail, friends and loved ones say the couple is "not guilty and not racist."

Marcus Hughes, Whitefeather's brother, told the outlet that his sister and her husband "are the ‘least racist people around."

"They’ve been made out to be monsters which isn’t true," Hughes said. "You're supposed to be innocent until you're found guilty."

"Just because nobody's told her side of the story doesn't make her guilty," he added. "There were issues in the neighborhood because white people are raising black kids."

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