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Woman claims sisters held in juvenile detention and considered runaways were victims of abuse

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Posted at 9:41 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-17 18:20:02-05

PROVO, Utah — Twenty-year-old Brittany Wolferts says she and her sisters were abused physically and emotionally by their father, Brian Wolferts, and she claims that is the reason her sisters spent months in hiding.

“It was a lot of just beating us down, calling us liars if he found out we were talking to the therapists about anything, and he was always worried about what we were saying to everyone. Every little thing was monitored,” Wolferts said.

Brittany moved out at 18 and says when her sisters came to visit in July of 2014, she had never seen them so unhappy.

“She was talking about suicide and how she’d rather die than go back,” Wolferts said. “They both made statements like that.”

It was during that visit Sydney and Danielle went missing. For a year and a half, they were nowhere to be found. Then, earlier this month, police discovered they were with their mother.

“Really right now they don’t have any options,” Wolferts said of her sisters. “It’s really up to the court.”

For more than two weeks, the court has made the girls stay at the Slate Canyon Juvenile Detention Center in Provo. Susan Burke, Director of the Division of Juvenile Justice Services, said they can’t comment on specific cases and couldn’t confirm whether or not the Wolferts were staying at the facility. She said, generally speaking, children staying with them engage in various activities during their time there.

“They go to school, they engage in activities and recreational programming, they have visitation,” she said. “They can visit with family members or clergy. So we engage them in appropriate programming while they’re with us.”

Burke said they often see cases involving runaways, including teens from other states.

“We have out of state runaway cases probably several times a month that we’re dealing with in our detention centers,” Burke said.

Their sister says the girls are victims, who don’t deserve to be punished.

“I don’t think that`s right; I don’t think they should be treated like criminals,” Wolferts said.

With that said, she said she would rather see them locked up than see them sent back to Kansas to live with their father.

“It’s still a safe haven in some regards rather than going back to my dad’s,” she said.

Their father, Brian Wolferts, adamantly denies these claims of abuse and says their mother has brainwashed the girls.

If the court does allow the girls to stay here in Utah, Brittany Wolferts says there are a lot of friends and family, on both sides, who have offered to apply for guardianship.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Friday January 22.