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Siblings Who Were Caged Sue Adoptive Parents in Court

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By Neetal Parekh on October 26, 2009 1:26 PM

You may remember hearing about an Ohio couple in the news in 2005 who was discovered to have been forcing their 11 adoptive children to sleep in cages.  The couple was convicted of criminal charges including child endangerment and child abuse and each is serving a two-year sentences in state prison. 

The two oldest adoptive children, have brought a civil suit against the couple for abuses sustained during the 10+ years they were in the care of Michael and Sharen Gravelle.  Charges include negligence, recklessness, wanton misconduct, and deprivation of rights and the lawsuit seeks at least $50,000 per count to pay for therapy, education, and other compensatory and punitive damages.  The lawsuit also names social workers and the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services in Cincinnati as defendants.

The Gravelles--who had history of sexual abuse--were allowed to adopt eleven children, many of whom had special needs.  The couple reportedly received over $100,000 per year for the multiple adoptions.  The older plaintiff, now 18, is reported to be in college and the younger plaintiff, 17, is said to have been transferred to another adoptive family.

How can you report child abuse?

If you suspect child abuse, you can take measures to report the conduct.  Certain individuals are mandatory reporters of child abuse (such as counselors, family practitioners, police officers, day care workers, and teachers) and are legally obligated to report abuse.   

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a U.S. government resource, anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect.  The organization lists Childhelp, a national organization providing crisis assistance and referral services, as a contact organization for reporting abuse.

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4454) is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has professional crisis counselors available with access to over 50,000 emergency, social service, and other support resources.

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