A Jupiter man convicted of aggravated child abuse after confining one of his children in a windowless, 8-by-8-foot room in his garage for hours at a time received a five-year prison sentence Thursday.
Circuit Judge Howard Coates said Timothy Ferriter also must serve five years of probation once he earns his release. Coates made his ruling after hearing statements from Ferriter, the teenage child at the center of the abuse allegations and statements read on behalf of two of Ferriter’s other children.
State prosecutors recommended that Ferriter, 48, receive a 15-year prison term, while the defense sought a term of one in year in prison, plus probation.
Coates granted a defense motion for downward departure from the minimum sentencing guideline of 75 months. He also required that Ferriter take both a 40-hour anger management class and a 40-hour parenting course, and that he undergo a mental-health evaluation as a condition of his probation.
Ferriter and his wife, Tracy, told Jupiter police prior to their arrests in February 2022 that the teen had lied, stole, attacked family members and threatened classmates. The room was a means to discipline the teen and protect other people in the household from harm, they said.
Tracy Ferriter, 48, is awaiting a separate trial on abuse and neglect allegations involving the teen. She attended Thursday’s sentencing and was present for most of her husband’s trial.
The teen at the center of the abuse allegation also spoke, requesting that the court show leniency. The Palm Beach Post is not identifying the teen either by name or gender.
“My father was a good person who just made a really serious mistake,” said the teen, now a sophomore in high school. “He was not a bad parent.”
Ferriter chose not to testify in his own defense. His team relied on testimony from family friends and a child psychologist, who described his behavior as misguided but not criminal.
Defense attorney Prya Murad told jurors that Ferriter and his wife struggled for quite some time in dealing with the teen, who was adopted as a toddler from an orphanage in Vietnam, due to the teen’s long-standing behavioral issues.
Murad told jurors that the couple tried to get help from therapists, doctors and schools, to no avail.