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Three Kids Left Out In Mojave Desert Without Shoes As Part Of Punishment

Out in the Mojave Desert (Photo by Dylan Andersen via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Three young children who were being punished were allegedly left out in the high heat of the Mojave Desert on Wednesday without shoes or water, reports the L.A. Times.

The children—all siblings— included a 7-year-old girl and two boys, ages 5 and 6. A passerby had spotted them in Twentynine Palms at around 11:20 a.m. According to NBC 7 in San Diego, the temperature was in the low-90s at the time.

Time Magazine reports that the children were left out there by their mother and her boyfriend for "disciplinary purposes." Deputies found their mother, 34-year-old Mary Bell, and her boyfriend, 29-year-old Gary Cassle, a short distance up the road. Cynthia Bachman, a spokesperson at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, told NBC that the couple was within sight of the children, but "weren't keeping a visual on them."

The family is homeless and had been living out of a car.

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The children were taken in by the county's Child Support Services department. Bell and Cassle are being held in lieu of $100,000 bail for felony child abuse. They are set to appear in court on Friday.

Twentynine Palms is located right next to Joshua Tree, and is about an hour east of Palm Springs. Figures from the National Weather Service Forecast Office show that it's not unusual for temperatures to max out at 103 degrees in mid-July in the area.

The case is reminiscent of another incident in Japan in which Yamato Tanooka, a 7-year-old boy, went missing in the Hokkaido region after he was abandoned by his parents as part of his punishment for throwing rocks. The disappearance, which happened in late May, sparked off a massive search that spanned nearly a week. Miraculously, Tanooka was found on the sixth day without any appreciable injuries. He'd found and taken shelter in a military base that was approximately 3.4 miles from where he went missing. According to The Guardian, Tanooka's parents, who said they'd left him alone for only a few minutes, were not charged for any wrongdoing.