DAYTON, Ohio - A couple who kept a 9-year-old girl in a barricaded bathroom for years when she wasn't in school are in jail after the girl told a school nurse about how she was being treated, police said Wednesday.

Dayton police Sgt. Larry Tolpin said Brian G. Hart, 50 and Rivae Hart, 49, were in the Montgomery County jail on kidnapping and child endangering charges under $50,000 bond. No attorney was listed for them.

The girl, Rivae Hart's granddaughter, was kept in an area consisting of a half-bathroom and a small edge of a hallway blocked by two stacked dressers topped by a wooden mattress board, Tolpin said Wednesday. He said the girl slept on a cot with only a blanket.

"It was a deplorable situation," Tolpin said.

The Harts have been the legal guardians of the girl and her 8-year-old brother since 2004. The brother and the Harts' 12-year-old and 14-year-old sons were not confined, Tolpin said. All of the children are now in foster care.

Tolpin said the couple say they confined the girl because of behavioural problems.

"Apparently that was their assessment when at age 3 she hit her 2-year-old brother on the head with a plastic telephone," Tolpin said.

The fourth-grader has had no problems at school, he said.

"She is articulate and very intelligent," Tolpin said.

Police were contacted last month by Montgomery County Job and Family Services after the girl confided in a school nurse. The Harts were arrested Jan. 27 and indicted Feb. 4.

Agency spokeswoman Ann Stevens confirmed that the girl was singled out for the treatment, the Dayton Daily News newspaper reported.

The girl told police that meals were inconsistent and that the Harts allowed her out for school and when people visited the home — the last time apparently at Christmas 2007, Tolpin said.

"I assume that made her distrustful about disclosing anything to adults," Tolpin said.