Jury Convicts Ohio Couple Of Endangering And Abusing Children In
"Caged Beds" Case
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 22, 2006
NORWALK, OHIO--A jury has convicted Michael and Sharen Gravelle of felony and misdemeanor charges of endangering and abusing some of their 11 adopted children, many of which have disabilities.
After three weeks of testimony and three days of deliberation, the jury found the husband and wife each guilty of four felony counts of child endangering, two misdemeanor counts of child endangering, and five misdemeanor counts of child abuse. The jury also acquitted each of 13 charges.
The couple faces from one to five years in prison and up to $10,000 for each felony conviction when they are sentenced in February. The misdemeanors carry no jail time.
The Gravelles were accused of keeping some of the children in wire enclosures armed with loud alarms. During the trial, the jury heard testimony that the couple dealt harsh punishments to the children, including beating them, forcing some of them to sleep in the caged beds without blankets or pillows, and hosing them off in the cold outdoors. They also heard how the couple forced one boy to spend 81 days in a bathtub as punishment for wetting the bed, and how they dunked the head of a girl with Down syndrome into a toilet.
Huron County Sheriffs deputies and Department of Job and Family Services social workers removed the children, then ages 1 through 14, from the Gravelle home on September 9, 2005 after finding the wood and wire cage beds in upstairs bedrooms, along with a strong smell of urine and no functioning smoke detectors.
The couple's defenders said they needed the wire enclosures to keep the children from hurting themselves or each other. During the trial, they presented experts who said the children's behavior improved because of the strict discipline.
Margaret Kern, the legal guardian for all of the Gravelle children, told the Toledo Blade that the children had one request of the media.
"They hate being labeled 'special needs.' They are normal, healthy kids who are doing well in school, at their new foster homes, and in their community."
"They all have friends and activities, and great enthusiasm, and zest for life," she added.
"Parents convicted of caging some children" (Toledo Blade)