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Couple charged in Cheektowaga child abuse case, Erie County DA says case is 'beyond horrific'

Teen admits sexually abusing 12-year-old child
Posted at 12:26 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 16:51:59-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Cheektowaga couple have been charged for their alleged roles in a child abuse case that occurred from November 2017 to January 2020.

"Beside an actual homicide, this may be the most egregious thing that I have seen in four years here," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn when speaking about the case Tuesday.

Flynn said the word "torture" was used in medical records in this case, something his office has never seen before.

"The torture that occurred to this child is unconscionable and may be the most horrific thing I have seen in my four years here," said Flynn.

40-year-old James Kevin McGonnell and 54-year-old Carol Steinagle allegedly kept the child in a room in the garage of their Cheektowaga home, made the child sit cross-legged on a wooden floor and restricted access to clothing, food and the bathroom.

McGonnell and Steinagle allegedly threatened to kill the child multiple times over the two year period and the child was beaten almost daily, according to Flynn.

The couple allegedly had four weapons they used to beat and torture the child according to Flynn which were:

  • A leather belt.
  • A leather belt with holes that contained metal.
  • A wooden spoon.
  • A pair of steel toe boots that McGonnell would allegedly use to kick the child.

The pair faces multiple charges which include:

  • One count kidnapping in the first degree.
  • One count kidnapping in the second degree.
  • One count endangering the welfare of a child.
  • Four counts of assault.

McGonnell also faces a strangulation charge.

The child, who lived in the home and knew the couple, is out of the home and the area living with a family member receiving treatment. Flynn said the case came to light when the child brought the alleged abuse to the attention of someone outside the home.

McGonnell and Steinagle face 25 years to life in prison. You can watch the district attorney's press conference below.