VIDEO: Children in 'Mineola Swingers' case removed from foster parents

Published on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 09:25 - Written by By Dayna Worchel dworchel@tylerpaper.com

 QUITMAN — A Wood County judge Tuesday removed four foster children from the custody of an allegedly abusive Mineola couple and awarded the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services temporary managing conservatorship. 

The children had been living with John and Margaret Cantrell, ages 69 and 64, respectively. 

Three of the children were at the center of a case in which six Smith County defendants were convicted of multiple felony child abuse charges in the 2005 “Mineola Swingers” cases, in which children allegedly performed sex acts.

Another 17-year-old male child who was not involved in the cases also was removed from the Cantrells’ custody.

Shauntel Mayo Pittman, Sheila Darlene Sones, Jamie Pittman, Patrick Kelly, Rebecca Pittman and Jimmy Sones pleaded guilty to charges of injury to a child, a third-degree felony, in the 241st District Court in May 2011.

A Houston appellate court overturned the convictions of Kelly and Jamie Pittman in 2010, who had each received a life sentence. New trials were ordered for both men, but all defendants were credited for time served and released shortly after the plea hearing in May 2011.

The Cantrells were granted possessory conservatorship Tuesday and will be allowed supervised visitation with three of the removed children, who are teenagers, Judge Sage said in court.

The visits would be contingent on whether the children wanted to see the Cantrells.

The Cantrells also must take parenting classes, attend counseling, have random drug testing and have psychological and social evaluations, according to information presented in court by the guardian ad-litem, Sarah Doke.

The Cantrells and their attorney, Sarah Bailey King, declined comment after the hearing.

State caseworkers filed the affidavits, which detailed incidences of beatings, the children being starved and the children going without medical or dental care.

The affidavit states that Mrs. Cantrell described one of the teens as “evil,” although school personnel and parents of friends have described her as a “sweet girl” who is not a behavior problem.

The affidavit also describes frequent arguments between the Cantrells over finances and states that neither of them is employed.

“The home has a strong animal odor, which is much more pronounced in the garage that has now been converted into a sleeping area for the children. The garage area is not completely finished and has no heat or air source,” the affidavit states.