Gravelles And Social Worker Charged With Multiple Crimes Against
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 17, 2006
NORWALK, OHIO--Michael and Sharen Gravelle were charged Tuesday on 16 criminal counts of felony child endangering, eight misdemeanor counts of falsifying adoption applications, and one felony count of lying under oath when being qualified for adoption funding.
A Huron County grand jury handed down the indictments after hearing testimony that the couple mistreated some of their 11 adopted children that have disabilities by, among other things, forcing them to sleep in wire cages.
The grand jury also charged independent licensed social worker Elaine Thompson with 16 felony counts of aiding and abetting child endangering, eight misdemeanor counts of complicity to child endangering, and eight misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect.
The children, who range in age from 1 to 15 years of age, were removed from the Gravelles' rural home on September 9 after sheriff's deputies searched the residence and found several wire and wood enclosures armed with electric alarms. They also found a strong smell of urine, no working smoke alarms on the second floor where the children slept, and the door to one bedroom that was blocked by a dresser.
The couple maintains that they built the enclosures in 2003 to keep the children from hurting themselves or each other.
Thompson, who had been hired by the Gravelles, testified in December that she was disturbed when she first learned about the enclosures, but that she later approved of their use because the couple was overwhelmed with the children's behavior problems and agreed they were needed to protect the children.
The Gravelles last month asked Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Cardwell to have the children returned to their custody from the foster homes where they have lived since they were taken from the home. Cardwell has scheduled a hearing on February 22 to hear evidence from the Gravelles and from county authorities on their custody request. The couple is now scheduled for arraignment on the criminal charges the same day.
In December, Cardwell listened to testimony from several of the children, including one boy who testified that he and his siblings were sometimes sent into the chicken-wire enclosures as punishment, often for soiling or wetting their beds. The boy also recounted how he was forced to spend 81 days in the family's bathroom -- only being let out for some meals and to go to school -- as punishment for urinating in his wire "box".
"Huron County jury indicts parents of caged kids; Multiple crimes alleged; therapist also is charged" (Toledo Blade)
"Attorney vows fight in caged kids case" (Toledo Blade)
"Cleveland prosecutor: Charges vs. social worker a rarity" (Canton Repository)