Local News

Police: Raleigh couple locked 6-year-old in basement

Posted July 20, 2013
Updated July 21, 2013

— A Raleigh couple was charged with child abuse Friday after investigators said they repeatedly locked their 6-year-old in the basement of their home and refused to give the child food. 

Cassandra Carmen Smith, 25, and Serge Daniel Germain Jr., 47, both of 4824 Six Forks Road, are each charged with one count of misdemeanor child abuse. Investigators said Smith, the child's mother, and Germain, the child's stepfather, began locking the child in the basement of their home in October 2010. 

Smith told WRAL News Saturday that the crime never happened. According to Germain, the couple's children go into the basement to get on their bikes and play in the back yard of the home.

"It's impossible to lock the door from the inside," Germain said.

Smith said she believes her son "needs some help" and said he's never gone without a meal. 

"We are finding out that (our son) has some mental issues," Smith said of her 6-year-old son. "This is not the first time he has lied."

According to an April 2013 assessment by the Department of Social Services, a case worker found no reason to believe that the three children in Smith and Germain's care were in any harm. 

"I told them, 'Yes, I have yelled at them on occasion,'" Germain said. "But that's because they don't listen any other way. You got to startle them to stop them."

Cassandra Smith Accused Raleigh parents: Abuse never happened

Following the couple's arrest Friday, they were released from custody on separate $5,000 bonds. Smith said she wanted to get back to her children as quickly as possible. 

"I wanted to know if they were going to take my kids. That was my first concern," she said. "My second concern was are we going to be able to get out and take care of them. For us, it's all about the kids."

Germain said the couple is being "persecuted" by the Department of Social Services. 

"It's a nightmare," he said. "They want to take my kids. These kids are my life. I love my children."

Smith was arrested in Chatham County in 2009 and charged with misdemeanor child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Those charges were later dismissed.

"I was asleep and I had a friend and she went out to go to the bank," Smith said. "She left the door unlocked and my son walked out and he got picked up by someone."

German was arrested in Florida in 2004 for assault on a police officer and resisting arrest and has also been arrested on drug charges. 

22 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • raleighlynn Jul 29, 7:27 p.m.

    CPS is often on a witch hunt. They can return the children if they have already taken them out of the home, arrange counseling for the child who claims he was in the basement, unfed, and keep the case open. They can make unscheduled visits. There is no reason to charge the parents until there is sufficient evidence. MichaelOps, you have it absolutely correct.

  • MichaelOps Jul 24, 4:26 p.m.

    Monami - "err on the side of the child" means that CPS very so often does such without validation. In short, it is a measure to protect themselves. There is no checks and balances for CPS. We think they are doing the good of mankind. But in reality, the vast majority are on a witch hunt and have blinders on. So many lives are ruined because we inherently trust DSS. But the reality is that live are ruined and families destroyed because of gross incompetence. Kinds make stuff up and it is the less fortunate who cannot legally defend themselves because to do so costs money. Bottom line, never, under and circumstance, allow CPS in your home without contacting a top-notch attorney first!

  • RebelCat Jul 23, 11:50 a.m.

    Seems like there is always an excuse ... take care of your kids ... you had them.

  • 3TeensGrowinUp2Fast Jul 23, 10:30 a.m.

    The warning signs are all there. Remove them before one of them ends up dead.

  • monami Jul 22, 4:23 p.m.

    "Maybe there is more information and there is something wrong, but with the info here, DSS should not be involved."

    I can think of few more helpless feelings than being abused, ala locked in the basement without food, and when you tell a trusted adult, they disbelieve you and throw you back to the wolves. If there is a question of validity, better to err on the side of the child. Something is wrong inside this family. I don't expect CPS to publish their case details to the public.

  • torr10 Jul 22, 4:18 p.m.

    In one sentence you say that CSP didn't find anything wrong. In the next few you say they were arrested. What's up with that? People are getting arrested now for doing nothing wrong? Don't misunderstand me...I think that guy is a big loser but really..let's be thorough for the kid's sake.

  • Smart Alex Jul 22, 2:58 p.m.

    SharpEyes - I'm sorry your mother has not forgiven you. Yet. Don't give up. I really wish you the best.

  • MichaelOps Jul 22, 2:36 p.m.

    Do not trust Child Protective Services. Ludwig and his cronies are on a witch hunt. My daughter was 3 years old and my ex wife played the abuse card. Thinking that CPS had sense and were educated, good people I let Linder Cauldwell and Corrie Sellers into my home. Biggest mistake I have ever made. My daughter was coached and Jeanne Arnts bought it. I did not see my kid for two years of fighting. My daughter is 14 now and I can never fix the damage that was done or the time lost. At least her and I have a good relationship today but Wake County CPS is NOT to be trusted.

  • SharpEyes Jul 22, 1:54 p.m.

    I can say like the rest of people that kids can and do lie. How do I know? I was one of them. I went to school and told the teacher that I was being hurt at home. My poor single mother didnt do anything to me except whip me when I was bad. Sure some things were unconventional (phone cords hurt) But once they brought in social services I learned that the longer I made stories about being hurt at home the longer I would get to stay out of class and play candy land with the social worker lady. Eventually they took me and gave me to my grandma. I wouldve been placed in a foster home if not for her. I stayed with grandma for the rest of my childhood. I now have no relationship with my mother because of the fact that I lied and caused her to lose custody of me. I apologize all the time. But the moral here is children do lie. It is possible that these things could be true but children are so dramatic. I was one of them

  • Scubagirl Jul 22, 1:33 p.m.

    still more to come out on this story I think. Children can and DO lie

More...