Fate of Leonard children uncertain

Police walk outside the Word of Life church on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y. Bruce and Deborah Leonard have been charged in the beating death of their son, Lucas, and the severe beating of his 17-year-old brother, Christopher, inside the church on Sunday. Four other adults were charged with assault in the younger brother's beating, including Sarah Ferguson, 33, the victims' sister. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

UTICA -- Friday in Oneida County Court the fate of the underage Leonard children came into question.

This after the arrests of several members of the Word of Life Church in connection to the alleged beating that one dead and sent another to the hospital. In all seven children between the ages of two and 15 are in protective custody by the Oneida County Department of Social Services.

Friday representatives of OCDSS were in court to address neglect petitions brought against Bruce and Deborah Leonard and their daughter Sarah Ferguson, according to WKTV in Utica. Due to the fact medical, emotional and mental issues having to do with minors were going to be discussed, Judge Randall Clark closed the courtroom for the hearing.

The case is still in the preliminary stages, but one DSS representative told WKTV that if there was a family member who could potentially care for one or more of the children in a responsible manner, they would investigate that possibility further.

Bruce and his wife Deborah face manslaughter and assault charges in the alleged beating death of Lucas Leonard, and the assault of Christopher Leonard, both of whom are their sons.

Ferguson, along with three other church members, is facing assault charges.

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