A Georgia woman was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the physical, mental, and emotional abuse of her three stepchildren, according to officials.
Nora Rodgers pleaded guilty on Oct. 9 to nine counts of Cruelty to Children in the First degree, the Newton County District Attorney's Office announced in a press release.
In October 2020, law enforcement responded to Rodgers' home after a concerned relative reported her, according to the release. The children — ages nine, eight and six — were found with signs of physical abuse, including bruising and swelling.
The nine-year-old boy had a black eye and severe bruising on his legs and the eight-year-old girl had bruises covering her body and scrapes and marks from physical punishments.
The six-year-old girl suffered the most significant physical injuries, according to the district attorney's office. She had scrapes, swelling and bruising covering her entire body, as well as a broken elbow. She also suffered severe internal injuries from the beatings, which could have led to her death and required treatment by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta’s trauma team.
The children were forced to do extreme bootcamp-style exercises, including running laps, doing squats with large logs from the yard and jumping jacks, for extended periods of time to the point of exhaustion and injury. Rodgers would often make them perform these exercises in the middle of the night and in the summer heat.
If the children failed to perform the exercises to Rodgers' standards, she would beat them.
The Department of Family and Children Services had previously told Rodgers she may not use exercise or corporal punishment, but that did not deter her.
The three children were also found malnourished, as Rodgers would underfeed them and withhold food as a form of punishment. She would impose time limits for them to eat their meals and she would blend their solid foods into a drink, so they could eat faster.
Notably, Rodgers' three biological children, who were also living in the home, were not subjected to the same feeding restrictions or physical exercises as her stepchildren.
All six children were removed from the home and placed in foster care after law enforcement became involved.
During a sentencing hearing on Dec. 12, Rodgers was sentenced to 60 years on probation, with the first 30 years to be served in prison. Impact statements from the child victims, foster parents, a social worker, and the children's grandmother explaining how Rodgers' abuse affected the children were delivered during the hearing.
"The dedicated work of the prosecution team led to a result that guarantees that the victims will be well into adulthood before Rodgers gets out of prison," District Attorney Randy McGinley said in a statement. "The DA's Office sought justice for the victims but also that Rodgers would be in prison long enough that she could not harm these children or any other children. The prosecutors hard work led to a guilty plea with an appropriate sentence without the children having to testify at length and relive the abuse they faced."
"A special thanks goes to the foster parents who cared for the children after their abuse and family of the children who reported the abuse," the statement continued. "While Rodgers put herself above the well-being of the kids, so many others fought for them."