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Hearing for couple postponed

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PROVO — A preliminary hearing for a Saratoga Springs couple charged with starving their two adopted Russian children has been postponed due to the unavailability of one of the defense attorneys.

Reed and Teresa Hansen were scheduled to appear in 4th District Court Tuesday to hear the state's evidence against them. Both have been charged with two second-degree felony counts of child abuse-neglect and one class A misdemeanor count of child abuse.

The couple was reported to the Utah Division of Child and Family Services after a Washington state pediatrician, who specializes in treating Russian orphans, noticed that the Hansen's 4-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl were severely malnourished. Prosecutors allege the couple withheld food from the children as punishment for bad behavior, sometimes for days at a time. Investigators with the Utah County Sex Crimes Task Force allege the boy was sometimes locked in the bathroom with no food or clothing for days at a time.

Just before a gag order was placed on the case last fall, defense attorney Sheldon Carter, who represents Reed Hansen, said a medical condition may be the reason for the children's state.

In court Tuesday, Utah County criminal division chief Sherry Ragan took issue with Teresa Hansen's attorney, Mike Esplin, not being present for the hearing. Carter said the defense attorneys were not properly notified about the hearing date.

Judge Anthony Schofield set a new preliminary hearing date of Feb. 4.