A white couple in Sissonville, West Virginia, faced additional charges of human sex trafficking and neglect after reportedly confining their five adoptive Black children in a barn for forced labor.

According to WV Metro News, this is the second time the couple has been arrested on charges relating to minor children. Donald Ray Lantz, 63, and Jeanne Kay Whitefeather, 62, appeared in Kanawha County court on Tuesday and entered not guilty pleas to over a dozen new charges, which include human trafficking of a minor, using a minor in forced labor, and child neglect posing significant risk of serious bodily harm or death.

Lantz and Whitefeather were initially arrested, with their bonds set at $200,000, following a separate incident in October 2023. At the time, a wellness check was conducted at their home when someone discovered that two of the five adoptive children were living in “deplorable conditions” while locked in a shed behind the couple’s home.

According to the indictment, the couple allegedly violated the children’s human rights by forcing them to work based on their skin color.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers remarked that in her career, she had never encountered a case where children were exploited as  “slave” workers.

“It alleges human trafficking, human rights violations, the use of forced labor,” Akers said, per WV Metro News. “Human rights violations specific to the fact that these children were targeted because of their race and they were used basically as slaves from what the indictment alleges.”

In Tuesday’s court hearing, Akers stated that the couple’s initial bond was insufficient, and she raised it to $500,000 each in light of the egregious nature of the crimes that occurred.

“Along with human trafficking and neglect was serious risk of bodily injuries or death, I don’t find the bond to be sufficient,” Akers said.

Prosecutors in the case expressed concerns about the couple’s financial resources, alleging that they used profits from trafficking and family assistance to post their initial bond back in February. However, that money remains in the Kanawha County Circuit Court Clerk’s office.

Kanawha County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Krivonyak proposed placing the money in a trust fund for the children.

Each child, aged 6 to 16, reportedly endured severe mistreatment at the hands of the couple, with neighbors verifying that they were compelled to work and were not permitted inside the home. Instead, they were allegedly forced to sleep on concrete floors without mattresses, endured inadequate food supplies, faced inhumane bathroom conditions, and suffered injuries.

A trial date has been scheduled for Sept. 9.