It’s been over 10 years since Seth and Trista Price hurt their two children.
Since they beat them.
Since they sexually abused them.
In the years that followed, both boy and girl were adopted into new, loving families. They took on new surnames. They endured intensive therapy and hospitalizations.
Victims of abuse testified Thursday that they continued to suffer. They continue to cry. They continue to pay the price of having their childhood stolen.
Seth Price, 38, of New Castle, pleaded guilty on March 2 to involuntary deviant sex, incest, endangering the welfare of children and common assault. On Thursday, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Bruce Beemer sentenced him, through a plea agreement in the case, to 5 to 10 years in state prison followed by 23 years probation.
Trista Price, who cooperated with the prosecution, pleaded guilty on Thursday to endangering the welfare of children. His plea deal included seven years of probation, including the first two years of house arrest.
When the judge asked why jail time was not recommended, Assistant District Attorney Tom Kelly said Trista Price had also been victimized by her husband and forced to commit criminal acts.
“Given what happened to him, the Commonwealth believes this is a fair offer,” Kelly said.
The Prices were accused of child abuse in 2009 and 2010 while living in Carrick. They were charged in January 2020.
The girl was between 4 and 6 years old when she was abused. The boy was between 5 and 7 years old. In addition to being sexually abused, the children said they suffered violent physical abuse, such as being hit with a frying pan and a two-by-four with a nail in it.
The Tribune-Review does not name victims of sexual assault.
On Thursday, the girl’s adoptive mother told the court that probation for Trista Price, 38, of Ingram, was not enough.
The girl came to live with her adoptive family when she was 8 years old. When they first met her, the woman said, they made fun of her humor, light and outgoing personality.
“It didn’t take long to see how quickly the light inside her could turn to darkness,” the adoptive mother said.
The woman said it took years of therapy – including the girl choosing not to speak but spending hours writing on a whiteboard – before she learned what had happened to her.
“It changed me. It made me feel so bitterly empty inside,” the woman said. “She deserved to be protected.
The woman described how her daughter hated the cameras because “‘voices come out of the cameras and tell you to do bad things'”.
Throughout her childhood, the girl would yell at her adoptive mother, throw things at her, insult her and destroy her room. The woman said she couldn’t hug the child or comfort her.
“Because of the severe abuse she had suffered, she did not trust an adult’s touch,” the woman said.
Over time, the adoptive mother said the daughter had self-harmed and attempted suicide.
The woman recalled how during a forensic examination for the abuse allegations, the then 14-year-old girl asked the doctor if she could have children.
“I was there when she cried with joy when the doctor said, ‘Yes, darling, you can have as many babies as you want,'” the woman said.
The woman said her daughter deserved to see Trista Price walk out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
“I wish we could say it’s justice,” the woman said. “That doesn’t even come close to justice.”
Although her adopted daughter began making a victim impact statement, she stopped after a short time and said she could not continue.
The young man, now 18, told the court that he had been hospitalized several times, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and reactive attachment disorder.
He said he struggled to form emotional bonds.
“I felt so guilty and blamed myself for the abuse that was inflicted on me,” he said.
He got angry and acted out.
“I was afraid that the people who loved me would leave me,” he said.
His adoptive mother testified that he was 9 years old when she met him. She called him a sweet, eccentric boy with an enthusiasm for the weather, trains and cars.
But he also suffered from horrific food insecurity, stealing food, hoarding it, and quickly eating it because he feared it would be taken from him.
He was scared and flinched whenever a man moved too quickly around him because he thought he would be hit.
He often said he didn’t deserve to be loved, his adoptive mother said.
“He discovered very early in life that adults could not be trusted to meet his needs,” she said. “We as a family have worked hard to help her heal. These two people no longer have the power to harm him. He has the opportunity to find the better life he should have had.
“Today, he goes from being a victim to being a survivor.”
Beemer spoke harshly to the two defendants.
“These offenses that you have perpetrated not only on the most vulnerable – the children – but on the children whose very existence you are supposed to protect,” he said. “It is the most fundamental responsibility of a parent.
“It was intentional. It was cruel, and the impact on them is incalculable.