DENVER (AP) — A Colorado woman convicted of plotting to kidnap her son from foster care after her teen daughter said she started associating with supporters of the Qanon conspiracy theory was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in jail and two years of supervised probation.
During her trial in August, Cynthia Abcug, 53, denied she was involved in planning a raid on the foster home where her then 7-year-old son lived in the fall of 2019. She had lost custody of him earlier that year after being accused of medical child abuse — lying about him having seizures and other health problems in order to trick doctors into providing unnecessary care. A jury convicted her of misdemeanor child abuse because of those allegations as well as conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.
Abcug asked District Judge Patricia Herron to sentence her to probation so she could continue getting therapy, working and studying for a law degree.
But Herron said she believes Abcug still sees herself as a victim and could pose a danger again because of that mindset. She said she wanted to sentence Abcug to prison immediately but decided against it during the court hearing after Chief Deputy District Gary Dawson told her that Abcug would be paroled quickly because the kidnapping plot — which was not carried out — was not considered a violent crime. Abcug could also be sent to a halfway house before she became eligible for parole, with less ability to monitor her actions.
If Abcug fails to show up to start her jail term next week or complete her probation, Herron’s sentence would then allow Abcug to be sent to prison.
Herron called basless a previous claim by Abcug that social workers were getting millions of dollars to take children from their homes and that the child welfare system was “broken.” She said the truth was they were trying to help Abcug’s son.
“I don’t hear a single word from you on the impact you had on the foster family by putting that plan in place,” said Herron, who said she did not find Abcug’s testimony at trial credible.
Her son, now 10, is still in foster care and has not had serious health problems since being removed from Abcug, according to prosecutors.
However, his foster mother, Julia Plotke, told Herron that he will be dealing with the trauma caused by how he was treated for the rest of his life.
After authorities were alerted to the plot by Abcug’s daughter, police came with Plotke to pick up her children at school and the whole family had to stay in a hotel for weeks, she said.
“I don’t think 60 days will come close to dealing with what we have to deal with,” said Plotke, who added that she believes the risk to her family continues.
Abcug testified that after her son was removed in May 2019 she was extremely anxious and reached out on social media for help in getting her son back. She told jurors she ended up meeting members of a group that said it was working on reforming the family court system and offered to help her get her son back legally. She said it turned out to be a scam with members interested in stealing money raised online to help parents who had lost custody of their children.
She did not describe the group as being involved with QAnon but said she heard references to the conspiracy theory by people she met through her activism online.
Many QAnon supporters believe former President Donald Trump was fighting enemies in the so-called deep state to expose a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters they believe secretly runs the globe.
The conspiracy theory was not a main issue in the trial, which focused more on detailed testimony from medical providers and educators about Abcug son’s medical history.