'Caged Kids' Case Parents Want Kids
July 11, 2007
By M.R. Kpopko
Associated Press Writer
and Sharen Gravelle answer questions during a news-conference, ...
NORWALK, Ohio - A couple facing a two-year prison sentence for
forcing some of their 11 adopted special-needs children to sleep in
cages hope to get the children back.
Michael and Sharen Gravelle were
sentenced in February on four felony child endangering charges and
seven misdemeanors. The couple are free on bond pending appeal.
"We still have an inside shot at
getting our children back, which was our goal and we still stand by
that," Michael Gravelle said Wednesday in the couple's first public
comments since they were sentenced.
The Gravelles' children, who ranged
in age from 1 to 14, suffered from problems such as fetal alcohol
syndrome and a disorder that involves eating nonfood items.
Authorities removed them in
September 2005 from their home in Wakeman, about 60 miles west of
Cleveland. The children were placed in foster care in fall 2005.
Sharen Gravelle said she thinks
often about the children who the couple said they took in because no
one else wanted to do so. "I didn't even get a chance to say
goodbye," she said.
The chance of the couple getting
the children back appears remote. About three weeks ago, the Ohio
Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal of the custody case that
put the children into foster care.
Michael Gravelle repeated his past
comments that he and his wife made enclosed beds for the safety of
the troubled children they adopted.
"They built a case on a lie, 11
kids locked in cages," he said. "It was not true."
A jury heard evidence, including
testimony from the children, that the Gravelles put them, sometimes
for punishment, in small wood-and-wire enclosures.
The Gravelles are out of money for
the legal battle and are hopeful they will receive financial support
to fight what they say is an unfair conviction.
They say they're working part-time
jobs and have tried without success to sell the house where Michael
Gravelle built what prosecutors called cages in the upstairs
Auctioneer Steven Kraus said he is
planning an auction July 20 aimed at raising $50,000 for the
Gravelles and is seeking donations of items and cash contributions.
He believes in the couple's innocence.
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