A 39-year-old Lacey man will serve 216 hours of community service for a 2016 case in which he withheld food from his two sons.
Mark J. Litten pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of third-degree criminal mistreatment in Thurston County Superior Court. He was initially charged last year with two counts of second-degree child assault.
However, if Litten violates the terms of his probation in the next two years, he will serve 364 days in jail. He served three days of jail time following his November 2016 arrest.
Litten entered his guilty plea before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Erik Price. In his guilty plea statement, Litten wrote:
“I created an imminent and substantial risk of substantial bodily harm to my two sons ... by at times withholding sufficient food, which is a basic necessity of life.”
Abuse allegations were made to Child Protective Services in February 2016, and the Lacey Police Department began investigating Litten that July.
According to court documents, a doctor reported that a 11-year-old boy was about 18 pounds underweight, and had essentially no body fat. His 7-year-old brother was about 11 pounds underweight and has type 1 diabetes.
The boys’ mother died in 2013, and Litten remarried a short time later. A detective learned during his investigation that the children began having behavioral problems after their mother’s death, and food deprivation was part of Litten’s plan to correct that, according to court documents.
The boys were reportedly locked in their room every night at 6 p.m., had their possessions taken away, and often weren’t allowed to participate in family events. According to court documents, the children weren’t allowed to eat the same food as the rest of the family. Instead, they ate mainly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, vegetables and fruit cups.
The boys have been placed in the care of family members.