Charges dismissed, reduced in case involving runaway Trenton teen

A Middletown man charged for his alleged involvement in the hiding of a runaway Trenton teen said he and his wife were “railroaded,” and he blamed Butler County Children Services and the Trenton Police Department.

Robert Bryant, 47, of Middletown, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and attempted interference of custody Wednesday afternoon in Middletown Municipal Court before visiting Judge Robert Messham Jr. He was fined $150, and his 90-day jail sentence was suspended.

His wife, Lucinda Bryant, 47, had her falsification charge withdrawn, and she pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and attempted interference of custody. She also was fined $150, and her 90-day jail sentence was suspended.

Their attorney, Chris Atkins, said “justice was served” and said the falsification charge with withdrawn because Trenton police determined there was no cell phone communication between them and Loretta Norvell, 17, of Trenton. She was found hiding in the Bryants’ closet on March 14, two months after her guardian and aunt, Nina Norvell Berry, reported her missing.

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Loretta Norvell said she was disappointed to be found in the 4800 block of Caprice Drive while Trenton police were serving a search warrant. She wanted to hide for a few more months until she was 18, she told police.

Atkins said Loretta Norvell was “mistreated” by Berry, and Trenton police and Butler County Children Services were called to the Trenton home more than 30 times.

Atkins said he found it ironic that Loretta Norvell’s 22-year-old brother, who is autistic, was placed in the custody of the Bryants, who are seeking guardianship.

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After the hearing, Robert Bryant wondered who’s going to protect the children. He said Loretta Norvell was malnourished and should have been removed from her Trenton home.

He was asked whether he thought he and his wife committed any crime.

“In the eyes of God, no,” he said. “He says, ‘Protect the children and those that can’t protect themselves and the elderly.’ I feel that’s what we did.”

MORE: Missing Trenton teen told police she didn’t want to be found

Also Wednesday, the boyfriend of Loretta Norvell appeared in juvenile court on criminal charges.

The 16-year-old boy, who is charged with falsification and obstructing justice, was placed on house arrest by Magistrate Michael Braun. He was also given a court-appointed attorney.

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