EXCLUSIVE: Relatives of Oswego 'squalor house' couple speak out

Anthony Distefano and Christina Haskins / photos: OPD

Relatives of the Oswego couple accused of endangering their children by forcing them to live in squalor are speaking out exclusively to CNY Central.

As we were first to report Wednesday, Oswego Police are charging Anthony Distefano and Christina Haskins with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child after police responded to a domestic violence complaint on April 6th. Police officers say they found the apartment on East 7th Street was unfit for children because of garbage and other filthy and potentially hazardous conditions. Oswego County's Child Protective Services have placed the couple's five children with relatives.

On Thursday, Ann Distefano, Anthony's mother, told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon by phone from her home in Colorado, the charges are "not fair." Distefano said her son is "not a horrible person" as some have portrayed him to be. She says the couple are "Victims of circumstance. Him and Christine are just poor people."

Christina Haskins's brother Jeremy Haskins has a very different opinion. He feels the child endangerment charges are well deserved. Jeremy Haskins says the living conditions had "gone way too far." Haskins says the children "are acting out, because they have never known love." Jeremy Haskins says his sister is "not going to change." He says he would like to meet with the judge handling the child endangerment charges about the children's future.

Jeremy Haskins claims that Child Protective Services caseworkers have tried on previous occasions to remove the children from squalid living conditions, but he says the Family Court system would always return to children to the parents.

Oswego Police charged Anthony Distefano Wednesday, but Christina Haskins has not been located as of Thursday morning, according to Captain Michael Beckwith.