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Most recent articles added to the case archives



Deputies describe 'bizarre methods' of discipline

Date: 2015-09-18

By Spencer Roush

BLOOM TOWNSHIP – Two parents accused of using "bizarre methods" to discipline their children, including allegedly beating them with sticks piled up in the home's basement and forcing one of the children to live and bathe outside, are out on bond since their arrest last week.

The Fairfield County Sheriff's Office intervened when it reported a 15-year-old girl, who was allegedly living outside without a toilet, electricity or running water, slipped a note to a neighbor's door asking for help and food. Deputies reported the girl was wearing tattered, dirty and ripped clothes and shoes when they arrived just before 10 p.m. Sept. 11.

The girl reportedly told deputies she had been living in the shed at the rear of the house, located along Lithopolis Road, for more than a month because she was in trouble for sneaking into her parents' room to use the computer.

Fairfield County couple charged with keeping 15-year-old daughter in shed

Date: 2015-09-13

By Mary Beth Lane

LANCASTER, Ohio — A Fairfield County couple has been charged with child abuse, accused of forcing their 15-year-old daughter to live in an outbuilding without food, water or a toilet.

Douglas Lyle Sherman, 64, and Kim Eng Sherman, 60, were arrested on Thursday night at their home at 10200 Lithopolis Rd. in Bloom Township. They are being held in the Fairfield County jail, Sheriff Dave Phalen said yesterday.

Deputies found a disturbing arrangement when they went to the home, which has a small outbuilding attached in the rear.

Their daughter was made to live in the outbuilding, and she was refused entry to the family home for food and other necessities, Phalen said.

The girl spent nights in the outbuilding with no lights, water or toilet. She used a garden hose and soap placed outside the building to shower, and used the woods to relieve herself, Phalen said.

Two cinder blocks supporting a sheet of plywood covered by cardboard served as a makeshift bed in the outbuilding, he said.

“It was very disturbing, to say the least,” Phalen said.

Roberta and Joseph Shane Charged In Connection With Mental Child Abuse Case

Date: 2015-03-24

By Kevin Koile

A former Casper High School librarian and her husband are both accused of mistreating one of their adopted children.

Roberta Shane has been charged with one count of child abuse by mental injury, while Joseph Shane has been charged with one count of aiding or abetting child abuse.

On Tuesday March 24th, a Circuit Court Judge ruled that prosecutors had met their probable cause burden and bound them over to district court.

Through interviews with a school social worker, investigators with the Casper Police Department say from May 2012 through April 2014, the now 11-year old victim had been punished in inappropriate ways.

They included sleeping on a cot smaller than her in a laundry room, only being allowed to wear certain types of clothes when in trouble, and being locked in the garage when the rest of the family leaves the house.

The victim added that when in the garage, she would given a roll of toilet paper and if she needed to use the bathroom, she would have to go use a tree in the backyard, since the door from the garage to the house was locked.

Mother Convicted of Battery On Her Adopted Child

Date: 2015-03-23

By Melissa Schroeder

LONOKE COUNTY, AR -- A Lonoke County foster parent, who adopted three children with her husband, is serving prison time for beating one of the kids with a vacuum cleaner attachment.

The children's biological aunt, Amber Butera, said, "I cannot bear falling to sleep because I know those kids could be...that they could be hurting."

Last month, a judge sentenced Jacqueline Ferguson to six years in prison for domestic battery in the second degree. Another foster child -- in the home at the time -- brought the abuse to the attention of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Kayla McPherson, the children's biological mother, said, "It hurts really bad to know I wasn't able to save them from that."

The state terminated her parental rights a couple years ago.

McPherson said, "We want them to know we love them very much and we are fighting for them."

While the kids were in foster care, McPherson says she told her caseworker about bumps and bruises found on her children. She says there were even photos taken months before the adoption went through...but she says nothing was done.

Couple accused of caging autistic son get 11 months

Date: 2015-03-18

BAD AXE – A couple accused of keeping their 19-year-old adopted son in a cage at their home in rural Michigan have been sentenced to 11 months behind bars.

WNEM-TV reports Karen and Timothy Tolin also were ordered Tuesday to serve two years of probation.

They earlier pleaded no contest to unlawful imprisonment in a Huron County court. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a charge of vulnerable adult abuse against each of them. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing.

A deputy answering an Oct. 20 civil dispute call found the 19-year-old in a bedroom at the home in Paris Township, about 90 miles north of Detroit. Authorities also removed three adults and two children from the home, which wasn’t a licensed care facility.

Fairfield County couple sentenced for keeping daughter in shed

Date: 2015-03-18

By Mary Beth Lane

LANCASTER, Ohio — A Fairfield County couple accused of child abuse last year for locking their 15-year-old adopted daughter out of the house and making her sleep in a backyard shed have been sentenced to probation.

Fairfield County Municipal Court acting Judge James Fais sentenced Douglas and Kim Sherman to 180 days in jail each, which was suspended for two years on probation.

They also agreed to give up their parental rights and permanently release the girl to the custody of Child Protective Services, and not to have any contact with her.

They were sentenced on Friday after they took a negotiated plea agreement and pleaded no contest to endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor, court records show.

Mr. Sherman, 64, and Mrs. Sherman, 61, of 10200 Lithopolis Rd. in Bloom Township, initially were charged with child endangering as a felony, but prosecutors said there was no evidence that the girl had been seriously physically harmed.

Deerfield couple arraigned on child abuse charge

Date: 2015-03-17

By Lisa Roose-Church

2 p.m. UPDATE – Eric Douglas Corcoran and his wife, Angela Ann Corcoran, were arraigned this morning and are being held in the Livingston County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

The couple return to District Court on March 24 for an exam conference and March 31 for a probable cause hearing to determine if the cases head to Circuit Court for trial.

It was not immediately known if the couple has attorneys.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The Livingston County prosecutor's office filed a felony complaint against a Deerfield Township couple accused of mentally and emotionally abusing their 16-year-old adopted son who created a family for himself using stuffed animals.

Livingston County District Court records show that a warrant has been authorized for Eric Corcoran and Angela "Angie" Corcoran for second-degree child abuse for alleged emotional and mental abuse against their former adopted son.

Messages to the couple were not immediately returned today. It is unknown if they have an attorney.

Prosecutor William Vailliencourt declined today to comment, citing the ongoing criminal case.

Couple charged with abusing teen locked in basement

Date: 2015-03-17

By Lisa Roose-Church

"The allegations included that at age 12 the boy was "being isolated," forced to eat different meals than the family and allowed to only "sit in corner of one room of the main home."

Criminal charges have been brought against a Livingston County couple accused of mentally and emotionally abusing their 16-year-old adopted son who created a family for himself using stuffed animals.

Livingston County District Court records show that a warrant has been authorized for Eric Corcoran and Angela (Angie) Corcoran of Deerfield Township on charges of second-degree child abuse.

Messages to the couple were not immediately returned Monday. It is unknown if they have an attorney.

Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt declined to comment, citing the ongoing criminal case.

Court documents filed in juvenile court allege the couple, both 43, isolated the teen in the basement of the family's Bennett Lake Road home.

"I just live my life in the basement," the teen told a worker with the Michigan Department of Human Services' Child Protective Services, according to court documents.

Legislator Who Rehomed Children has Received $4M in Public Funds since 2010

Date: 2015-03-13

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A state representative under fire for rehoming his adopted daughters with another family has blamed lack of support from the Arkansas Department of Human Services as the reason the children were rehomed. According to DHS records, Harris has received more than $4 million in public funds from DHS programs through his preschool since 2010.

State Representative Justin Harris, R-West Fork, rehomed his children with another NWA family after claiming behavior issues made it unsafe for his other children to live with the girls. One of the girls was later molested by Eric Cameron Francis, the man Harris sent the girls to live with. Francis was convicted in late 2014. Harris claimed that DHS had threatened him with child abandonment charges and was not supportive in his efforts to deal with the girls' behavior issues.

Citing the privacy of the children involved, DHS has said it cannot comment on the adoption or the claims Harris has made. Other individuals who know the girls and had served as foster parents for them contest Harris's descriptions and say Harris thwarted their offers for help.

Justin Harris used foster daughter in campaign materials, against DHS rules

Date: 2015-03-13

By Lindsey Millar

State Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) used photos of a foster child his family was planning to adopt during his 2012 re-election campaign. The state Department of Human Services expressly prohibits the public use of photos or any other media that would compromise a foster child's anonymity.

Asked whether the Department of Human Services was aware Harris was using a foster child in campaign materials, DHS spokesperson Amy Webb said she couldn't comment specifically on Harris, but speaking generally, she said the agency would not allow such use.

"If we were made aware of a situation like you described, we would immediately call the foster or pre-adoptive parent and tell him to discontinue using the picture on any campaign material. We would not be comfortable with a foster child’s picture being used during a campaign. [DHS's Office of Policy and Legal Services, which according to department rules, has to approve public use of any media featuring a foster child] would not agree to that either."

Secretary of State Mark Martin says Harris "humble and gentle," his critics "hypocritically self-righteous"

Date: 2015-03-12

By Benjamin Hardy

A reader from Northwest Arkansas passes along this series of screenshots from a Facebook exchange with Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin about the adoption and "rehoming" of two young girls adopted by Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork), which was the subject of our cover story this week.

The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, told me she does not know Martin and has never personally interacted with him in the past, but when a mutual Facebook friend posted the Arkansas Times story, she (the reader) became drawn into a back-and-forth with the Secretary of State.

She said she thinks Harris should resign and criticized him for his "self-pity" and refusal to accept blame. But, she also said (like many others who have responded to this story) that she has little faith in DHS and can believe their account may not be the whole truth.

Enter Martin. He replied to the reader's comment, saying she was "making a judgement based upon misinformation by a vile socialist anti-Christian propaganda blog about one of the most righteous seeming, humble, and gentle men I have ever met in my life."

Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

Date: 2015-03-12

Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.

By Benjamin Hardy

An emotional Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork), his wife at his side, told reporters at a press conference last week that he sent his two adopted daughters to live with another family, where one of them was later sexually abused, because he would have faced abandonment charges by the state.

Former Employee Says Harrises Attempted to Pray Demons Out of Kids

Date: 2015-03-11

By Lauren Conley

WEST FORK -- One former employee of Growing God's Kingdom says the Harrises didn't just believe their adopted kids were possessed, but they also believed students at the school possessed demons as well.

The former employee and mother of a student at the school wants to be named only as Amber. She says Justin and Marsha Harris would often try to pray the demons out of misbehaving students at their pre-school, Growing God's Kingdom.

"If they got in too much trouble they would pray on the kids, do a circle around them, put their hands on their heads, saying, trying to rebuke demons." Said former employee, Amber.

Amber was an employee at Growing God's Kingdom for about five months in 2013. She says Justin Harris fired her after a difference in opinion on how to discipline students. Though she says she learned a lot about the Harris family during those five months.

"How did you learn about the fact that they were praying demons out of kids?" Lauren Conley asked Amber.

Nurse's assistant sentenced for torturing two adopted children

Date: 2015-03-11

By Matt Hamilton

A nurse’s assistant from Palmdale was sentenced Wednesday to seven years to life in prison for torturing two children she had adopted, prosecutors said..

In December, Ingrid Brewer, 53, pleaded no contest to two counts of torturing the 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy she had adopted after serving as their foster mother, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

On Jan. 20, 2013, the two children were found blocks from Brewer’s home after they ran away. They were bruised and beaten, huddled under a blanket without winter clothes in temperatures that had dipped below 20 degrees, officials said.

The children fled because they were "tired of being tied up and beaten," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Special Victims Bureau said at the time.

The children told deputies that Brewer beat them with electrical cords and a hammer and locked them in their bedrooms when she went to work as a nurse’s assistant at UCLA Medical Center, Hudson said.

Justin Harris heaps more blame on DHS for his adoption decision

Date: 2015-03-10

By Max Brantley

Rep. Justin Harris, who turned over two adopted children to the family of a child molester, has added a second attack on the Department of Human Services in the matter.

Friday, he said he'd turned over the 3- and 5-year-old girls to Eric Francis, now serving a 40-year sentence for molesting the older child after assuming custody, because DHS had threatened to pursue abandonment charges against them if he asked the state to rescind the adoption, which it can and will do. The state won't comment on specifics (because it says it can't under the law), but has generally denied that it would threaten abandonment against someone seeking help.

Harris also said Friday that the little girls presented a danger to his older sons, though the oldest was five and the children are described as small for their age.

Today, Harris added a new dimension to his story. In an interview with KTHV he said Cecile Blucker, the director of the DHS Division of Children and Family Services, was aware of his handoff of the children to Francis but didn't report it to other authorities. DHS still won't comment.

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