Judge denies bail in child torture case

ESCANABA – One of two suspects accused of abusing and torturing a 15-year-old Escanaba boy, appeared in court Friday during a motions hearing to consider denying bail for both defendants.

Carl James Pellinen, 47, of Escanaba, sat with his wrists handcuffed on his lap in Delta County District Court while Judge Robert Goebel Jr. considered the request from the prosecution.

Pellinen and co-defendant Susan Marie Bardo, 46, the victim’s mother and Pellinen’s girlfriend, are charged with first-degree child abuse, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and torture, all life felonies. Bardo chose not to appear in court for Friday’s motions hearing.

Delta County Prosecutor Steve Parks submitted the request to the court to deny bail and not allow pretrial release. Both defendants have been lodged in the county jail in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond each.

Parks told the court the defendants are a danger to children. He also said investigation continues into the victim’s allegations as well as other possible acts of abuse.

Parks based his request to deny bail on a report from Child Protective Services which he said “lays out the facts” especially those relating to alleged criminal sexual conduct.

According to Michigan statutes, the court can deny pretrial release or deny bond if guilt is evident in cases of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Parks said the victim’s statements incriminate both defendants.

If bond cannot be denied, Parks requested it be raised substantially to $250,000 each.

Attorney John Filoramo, representing Bardo, said his client will live with whatever bond is set but he did ask the court not to set the bond so high.

Attorney Elizabeth LaCosse, representing Pellinen, stated via a telephone conference call in court that she did not have all the documents in the case but said the $50,000 bond is beyond her client’s ability to post.

Goebel ruled the court will deny any bail at all and ordered the two defendants be held in custody until any further court order. When the hearing was adjourned, a sheriff’s deputy escorted Pellinen out of court and back to jail.

Escanaba Public Safety officers were dispatched April 12 to the home where Pellinen and Bardo resided. A relative of the teen had not seen the child for a while and requested police check on his welfare. When officers arrived at 1525 N. 20th St. they noticed windows on the house were blocked off with black plastic from the inside. After making contact with Bardo and Pellinen, police found the boy staying upstairs in an 8-by-10-foot room lined with tarps.

The teen was brought to the police department where he was interviewed about his living conditions during the past four years. He was later transported to OSF St. Francis Hospital for a medical evaluation. He is now under the care of Child Protective Services.

Bardo and Pellinen were arrested later that day after police interviewed them, conducted search warrants, and collected evidence from the residence.

Bardo and Pellinen are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in district court on Thursday. During a preliminary hearing, evidence is presented to the court to determine if there is probable cause a crime has been committed by a defendant. If there is probable cause, the case is forwarded to circuit court where a plea or trial may take place.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net