Tuesday, September 13, 2005

11 Children Found at Ohio Home With Cages

The 11 children removed from a house where authorities say some of them slept in homemade cages are polite, well-behaved, well-dressed and appear to have been well-fed, neighbors and authorities said Tuesday.
Their adoptive parents, Michael Gravelle, 56, and Sharen Gravelle, 57, denied in a custody hearing Monday that they abused or neglected the children, who are ages 1-14 and have conditions that included autism and fetal alcohol syndrome.
No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon, and messages left with the couple's lawyer were not immediately returned.The Gravelles have said a psychiatrist recommended they make the children sleep in the cages, Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler told the Norwalk Reflector. The parents said the children, including some who had mental disorders, needed to be protected from each other, according to a search warrant on file at Norwalk Municipal Court.
Leffler refused to speak with an Associated Press reporter Tuesday at his office.
Dr. Gregory Keck, founder of an Ohio organization that works with adoptive parents of special needs children, said county officials contacted him in late August, asking whether the arrangement at the Gravelles could be considered appropriate.
"I said, 'No, I couldn't imagine any situation in which children should be kept in cages,'" said Keck, director of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, who has not worked with the Gravelles.


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