Foster parents who put children in cages try to regain custody

It’s rare that a Stupid Person featured here actually returns to the news, but it’s happened. In September, we reported on Sharen and Mike Gravelle, who were adoptive or foster parents for 11 children, whom they were caught keeping in cages. Now they’re in court, trying to regain custody of the children.

One boy said he had to live in the bathroom for about three months, sleeping in the bathtub, as punishment for going to the bathroom in his cage, Huron County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Sommers said during a custody hearing.

Sommers said two children told him about punishments of being shoved or being held under water. In another incident he said a child told of “having his face shoved against a bathroom wall until his nose bled.’

The testimony came in an effort by the parents, Michael and Sharen Gravelle, to regain custody of the children, ages 1 to 14. The youngsters have health and behavioral problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and pica, a disorder in which children eat dirt.

Child-welfare workers had heard rumors that the couple kept some of the children in cages two years before the youngsters were removed from the home, said Jo Ellen Johnson, an investigator for the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services, in testimony Tuesday.

Officials tried to follow up on the rumors in 2003, but the Gravelles would not cooperate and a full investigation was never conducted. The children were finally taken from the Gravelles in September after Johnson visited the home and examined the chicken-wire cages.

“They were piled one on top of another. It looked like a kennel,’ Johnson said.

The Gravelles have not been charged. They say they built enclosures with alarms where the children could sleep for their own protection.

Judge Timothy Cardwell will determine whether the children were abused or neglected. If the allegations are not proved, the Gravelles, who live near rural Wakeman, could regain custody. — Associated Press

Absolutely amazing.

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