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Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Douglas and Kristen Barbour Child Abuse Case

     Douglas B. Barbour was a prosecutor in the Pennsylvania State Attorney's Office headquartered in Harrisburg, the state capital. The 33-year-old attorney was assigned to the district office in Pittsburgh. He and his 30-year-old wife Kristen resided in Franklin Park, a borough of 14,000 just north of the city. In March 2012 the couple, through a religious organization called Bethany Christian Services, adopted a 5-year-old boy and an 11-month-old girl. The children were from Ethiopia.

     On September 14, 2012 Dr. Rachel Berger at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh examined the Barbour children. The 6-year-old boy had been brought to the hospital with hypothermia, rapid breathing and skin lesions caused by prolonged exposure to urine. He weighed 47 pounds and was severely malnourished.

     The girl, 18-months-old, had breathing difficulties, retinal hemorrhaging, brain injury and healing fractures in her femur and a toe. (Kristen Barbour told Dr. Berger that the toddler had suffered several accidental falls.) As a result of the toddler's head trauma she was blind in one eye, perhaps permanently. The little girl was also malnourished. (Tests would later reveal that the healing bone fractures were not the result of disease.)

     Dr. Berger, suspecting child abuse, notified the Allegheny County Police Department. The boy was admitted to the hospital's urgent care center and the girl placed into protective custody. In the doctor's report she wrote this about the 6-year-old boy: "[He is] the victim of significant neglect and possible emotional abuse over a prolonged period of time."

     After spending six days in the hospital the boy gained seven pounds. He was taken to A Child's Place, a children's abuse facility at the Mercy Health Center in Pittsburgh.

     On October 2, 2012 detectives with the Allegheny County Police Department questioned the boy at the Mercy Health Center. According to the child, whenever he soiled his pants, his parents made him eat his meals in the bathroom.

     Two days after speaking to the 6-year-old the police arrested Douglas and Kristen Barbour. They were charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and in the case of their 18-month-old daughter, aggravated assault. The state attorney general's office suspended Douglas Barbour without pay pending the outcome of the case.

     Detectives searched the couple's suburban home in Franklin Park and found, in the boy's bedroom, nothing but a mattress and a sheet. There were no toys, window coverings, wall decorations or anything else that made the place livable.

     According to an employee of the adoption service, Mrs. Barbour had complained that the boy was "rude, defiant and very difficult." She also complained that both children ate too much.

     On June 23, 2014 Douglas and Kristen Barbour pleaded no contest to two counts each of endangering children. Mr. Barbour pleaded to the misdemeanor counts while his wife pleaded to the felony charges. As part of his plea deal Mr. Barbour received a probated sentence. Although his wife faced three to twelve months in jail, her attorney asked for probation. The couple relinquished their parental rights and the children remained in foster care.

     In September 2014 the judge sentenced Kristen Barbour to six to 12 months to be served at the minimum security prison at Mercer, Pennsylvania. Douglas Barbour, in March of 2015, resigned from the Pennsylvania Bar Association.


  1. I was Kristen’s college roommate for two years. We (my husband and I) became acquainted with Doug also and sang in their wedding. I have not been in contact with them regarding the allegations but know they would not hurt their children. There are probably many people who dropped the ball for the situation to get so bad, possibly even Doug and Kristen in some way. But they did not hurt their kids. This blogger paints a picture of what is an entirely more likely scenario.

    1. You can never know what people are capable of no matter how well you think you know them. These 2 are monsters and should be locked up for life. Many evil people hide behind the shield of supposed religion. Open your eyes.

    2. Your friends are monsters! The fact that the little boy didn't have a bedroom with toys, chairs, pictures....says it all. They wanted to adopt the two kids so they could use them as their wipping board, so to speak. Why would you not feed a child, well to do people to say the least? Why was the little girl physically abused? They did not abuse their own kids....do you get it! They are child abusers and should not be allowed to walk free BUT should be treated like other child abusers.....send their asses to jail for years!!!!!!!

    3. They didn't hurt their children. They harmed someone else's chilldren.

    4. When you adopt you pledge to treat the adopted children as your own.

    5. The literal BABY had such severe injuries that she went blind, Andrea. They pleaded no contest. What is wrong with you? Gain some perspective.

  2. I'm horrified that Douglas got probation, that Kristen might not serve jail time either and that they retained custody of their biokids -- despite admitting to TORTURING the now-ex Ethiopian kids in front of them!!

  3. Then why did they plead no contest? There is a special place in hell for people like them.