Married couple George Harasz and Douglas Wirth of Glastonbury were supposed to be sentenced Friday in Hartford Superior Court under a plea deal, but instead withdrew from their agreement with prosecutors.
The men had already pleaded no contest in January to one felony count each of risk of injury to a minor — a reduction from even more serious charges related to sexual assault.
But in a surprise turn, the couple’s attorneys pulled them out of the plea in a bid to fully clear their names.
If Harasz, 49, and Wirth, 45, had continued with the deal, they would have been given suspended prison sentences and probation.
But more allegations came to light Friday in the explosive case, and prosecutors said they also want to go to trial. “I think the only proper resolution of this matter is to try it,” said prosecutor David Zagaja.
Judge Joan Alexander agreed that a trial would be “in the interest of justice. The facts must be shown and must be shown publicly.”
Harasz and Wirth adopted nine children — three sets of male siblings — beginning in 2000, and ran a home-based dog breeding business called The Puppy Guy.
The couple was arrested in November 2011 following a police and state investigation of sex-abuse allegations.
The children were removed from the home. Police said two boys, ages 5 and 15, accused Harasz of sexually assaulting them.
Harasz was initially facing first-degree sexual assault and other charges, while Wirth had been charged with third-degree sexual assault of the 15-year-old boy.
Their arrest warrants claimed the couple not only sexually and physically abused the children, but also forced them to sleep in closets.
Other children in the home told authorities that they weren’t abused, and prosecutors had agreed to a plea deal because they said a lack of forensic evidence would make it difficult to prove all of the allegations.
But now, three other children are claiming they were also abused, although no new criminal charges had been filed Friday, the Hartford Courant reported.
One of the victims who spoke during the court hearing said sexual assault began when he was 6.
“They took turns raping me over and over,” he said. “Anyone who would do this to a child is a sick, demented person.”
Supporters of Harasz and Wirth also spoke Friday in defense of the couple.
One of their children, Carlos Harasz, said the accusers were lying and that the abuse suffered was under previous foster parents.
Carlos Harasz added that the state Department of Children and Families “took the word of an angry, damaged, disturbed boy and destroyed a family.”
Police have been ordered to investigate the latest accusations, and the parties are set to appear in court again June 5.