YORK, Pa. – A Pennsylvania woman who admitted hiding five of her children from the world was sentenced Wednesday to a prison term and probation after she apologized in court.
Louann Bowers apologized for her "selfish" actions before York County Judge Richard Renn sentenced her to 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison followed by 23 months of probation, according to The York Dispatch. She pleaded no contest to five counts of child endangerment in May.
Bowers, 34, said she ran away from home as a teenager because she was afraid of her abusive father, who she said called her a failure.
"I know I'm not a failure," she told the judge. "I have to prove to the world that ... I'm a good mother."
Bowers' lawyer, Ron Gross, said his client had already been locked up for nearly as long as the minimum sentence and that she will likely be released from prison soon.
Bowers' oldest five children and a sixth born since she has been in prison are all in foster care, prosecutors said.
She and the children's father, Sinhue Amea Johnson, raised them in a York home that lacked heat, electricity, water and a functioning toilet, police said. Bowers admitted that the children did not receive medical or dental care, did not attend school and did not have birth certificates because she wanted to remain in hiding.
In August 2009, police and a child caseworker took the children, then between the ages of 2 and 13, into protective custody after finding them in an East York hotel with their mother.
Gross told The Dispatch his client's family had her declared dead in 2006. The family had reported her missing in 1993, and state police believe she ran away with Johnson, who is her uncle by marriage.
Johnson, 46, remains in a county prison awaiting trial for child endangerment.