Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives

Holly Hill PD: Foster Mother Bit & Hit Mentally Challenged Kids

Date: 2014-10-08

Holly Hill, FL – A Holly Hill mother is held without bond after police say she bit, hit and verbally abused her 2 adopted kids, each of whom suffers from mental disorders.

37-year-old Allison Fowler was arrested around 5:30pm Tuesday at her Mobile Avenue home on a felony count of child abuse after a pastor at the United Brethren In Christ Church called law enforcement earlier that day to report her.

According to Fowler’s arrest report, that pastor told the Holly Hill Police Department that Fowler’s adopted kids – a boy and girl whose ages and other identifying information was redacted from the report – are students at their school and he found scratch and bite marks on the left side of the boy’s neck and on his right pinky finger when he came to school on Tuesday morning.

When questioned, the boy told HHPD about several incidents where Fowler was verbally and physically abusive towards him and his sister, both of whom have lived with Fowler since they were very young.

DA opposing reduced sentence for abusive mom

Date: 2014-10-07

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The district attorney is arguing against leniency for the wife of a former state prosecutor who's been sentenced to six to 12 months in alternative housing for endangering here two adopted Ethiopian children.

Thirty-two-year-old Kristen Barbour wants to serve the sentence on house arrest, but Allegheny County prosecutors oppose that.

Barbour and her 35-year-old husband Douglas, were sentenced last month after pleading no contest to child endangerment counts in June. Douglas Barbour, who's on probation, resigned from the state attorney general's office after the couple was charged in October 2012.

That's when their 6-year-old adopted son was being malnourished and an 18-month-old girl had multiple head fractures in various stages of healing.

Kristen Barbour claims she'll be unable to care for the couple's two biological children, but prosecutors say her husband and in-laws can help while she's incarcerated.

Should a Mother Lose her Child because of One Mistake?

Date: 2014-10-07

By FauxClaud

Close your eyes and imagine this:

Imagine that your beloved father dies suddenly and in your grief, you make a mistake. You drink too much and sleep with an old friend.

Imagine that you become pregnant form this and, understandable, your significant other of 7 years is upset, but you really want this baby. You feel it is the last piece of your father coming though and you want to name this baby after him.

Imagine that right before your due date, your guy tells you that you cannot bring this new baby into your shared home. That even though he has happily helped you parent your five other kids ( that are not his) he won't take on this baby; all you can imagine is that your other kids will lose the life they have, so you do the unthinkable.
In a panic, you call an adoption agency.

Mom accused of fooling doctors into unneeded surgeries is expected to bail out of jail Monday

Date: 2014-10-06

By Aimee Green

Attorneys for a 44-year-old mother of eight who is accused of fooling her doctors into needlessly operating on some of her children have persuaded a judge to lower her bail to $5,000.

That means Katherine Parker -- who has been jailed for more than six months pending trial -- could walk out of Multnomah County jail as early as Monday after posting 10 percent of her bail, or $500.

Her bail had once been set at $1.2 million, before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric Bloch agreed to lower it to about $400,000 in May. Friday, he agreed to again lower it to $5,000.

Defense attorneys Lisa Ludwig and Tiffany Harris convinced Bloch that he should drastically slash Parker’s bail, arguing that she does not pose a flight risk. They also addressed one of the reasons Bloch wouldn’t reduce Parker’s bail further at a May hearing: A deputy who would supervise her outside of jail while she awaits trial wouldn’t be able to monitor if she were living almost 250 miles away at her Grants Pass home.

Douglas Wirth Found Not Guilty Of Abusing Adopted Son

Date: 2014-09-29

By David Owens

ARTFORD — A Hartford Superior Court judge Monday found a former Glastonbury man not guilty of physically and sexually abusing one of the sons he and his former husband adopted through the state Department of Children and Families..

Judge Julia D. Dewey said the evidence against Douglas Wirth was simply not believable.

"Not guilty of all charges," the judge said after summarizing her findings.

The trial was based on the charges brought by one son, who is now 19. Wirth, 46, and his former husband, George Harasz, 51, were accused of sexually and physically abusing him over several years. He was one of nine boys they adopted through the state Department of Children and Families.

Harasz is scheduled to go to trial in late October.

The accuser's long history of lying — a therapist described him as a pathological liar — undermined the state's charges.

Adoption, Special Needs, Child Abuse, Evangelicals. Yet Another Case

Date: 2014-09-29

by Frank Ligtvoet

Ruthann Gneiser, a 31 year-old woman living just outside Manitowoc (WI), a few miles from Lake Michigan, fundraised in 2011 for the adoption of her second child, a toddler with Down syndrome from the Ukraine who would be named Lucas. A friend, Michelle Zoromski, lauded her on her blog for her original fundraise method: she etched glassware and sold that (since deleted). Her first child, a child with Down syndrome as well, was adopted as a baby in 2009 domestically and went by the name Micah. Both kids are 5 years old.

The Gneisers seem in rural Mid-Western terms a regular couple. Husband Mark is a salesman in the agribusiness, Ruthann stay-at-home mom. She and Mark are members of a Yahoo support group for parents with children with Down Syndrome, they walk the annual Down Awareness Walks in Neenah (WI) and are devout evangelical Christians. On the website of the organization through which they found Lucas, CHASK, they wrote: "Further than special needs, all children are special and precious, created for God's glory."
All might have seen well from the outside. And then USA Today reported last Thursday, September 25:

Wis. woman accused of beating, scalding disabled son

Date: 2014-09-26

MANITOWOC, Wis. - A Wisconsin woman was charged Thursday with child abuse for allegedly beating and scalding her 5-year-old son who has Down syndrome.

Ruthann Gneiser, 31, faces one felony count of physical abuse of a child, intentionally causing great bodily harm.

According to the complaint, Gneiser told an investigator she was angry and repeatedly struck the boy on his back. When he defecated in his pants, she pulled her son into the bathroom and made him stand in the shower under cold water, the complaint said.

Authorities say she filled the bathtub with hot water and the boy sat in the scalding water. The boy was screaming when he was in the cold and hot water, Gneiser told the investigator.

She said she realized the water was too hot when she reached in to help her son clean his underwear and almost burned herself, the complaint said.

Gneiser said she believed the boy sat in the hot water for up to 1 ½ minutes, resulting in the boy suffering scald burns over eight percent of his body, the complaint said.

Woman charged with beating and scalding her 5-year-old adoptive son with Down syndrome

Date: 2014-09-26

By Charlene Adams

A Wisconsin mother of two allegedly beat her five-year-old son who has Down syndrome so badly that the boy defecated in his pants, she then made the boy sit in scalding hot bath water, authorities say.

Ruthann Gneiser, 31, told investigators that she was 'as angry as I've ever been.'

Medical Center of Aurora staff notified authorities after Gneiser brought the child in on Monday with 'heavy bruising' on his back and scald burns on more than 50 percent of his body, according to ABC 2.

The married, stay-at-home mom reportedly got angry with her adoptive son and began slapping him repeatedly on the back until he defecated in his pants.

ABC 2 reports that Gneiser made her son stand in a cold shower until he 'got himself cleaned up.'

She then made the boy sit in hot water for up to 1 1/2 minutes only noticing that the water was very hot when she reached in and nearly burned herself, Gneiser told authorities.

The child was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where he underwent emergency surgery, according to ABC 2.

UPDATE: Mother Burns Special Needs Child

Date: 2014-09-26

MANITOWOC, Wisc. (WFRV) A criminal charge of "physical abuse of a child intentionally causing great bodily harm" has been filed against a Manitowoc mom.

Manitowoc County District Attorney Jacalyn LaBre filed the charge against Ruthann Gneiser in Manitowoc County Court yesterday. If Gneiser is found guilty, she faces a fine up to $100,000 and/or a prison sentence up to 40 years.

Gneiser is accused of beating and scalding her 5-year-old son who has Downs Syndrome.

According to the criminal complaint, the Milwaukee Children's Hospital pediatrician who is treating the boy for his injuries says he has severe bruising and the amount of bruises are "too numerous to count". The doctor further states that a large bruise is on the top of the boy's skull. The pediatrician believes the bruises are from physical abuse.

UPDATE-2: Mom accused of beating, scalding son with Down syndrome

Date: 2014-09-25

By Michelle Clemens

Manitowoc County - A Manitowoc boy who has Down syndrome suffered burns on over 50 percent of his body when he was placed in scalding water, according to a probable cause statement from Manitowoc County.
Ruthann Gneiser from the Town of Newton now faces felony charges.

Investigators were alerted around 5 o'clock Monday evening when hospital staff said they were treating a boy in the emergency room with burns and heavy bruising on his back. Authorities believe the injuries happened four hours earlier.

Law enforcement made contact with the boy's mother, who admitted to causing the injuries to her son, according to the probable cause statement.

"Obviously it's a very tragic situation when a young child like that gets abused," Sheriff Robert Hermann said.

The statement says Gneiser was angry with her son, so she slapped the boy repeatedly on the back with an open hand, at which point he defecated in his pants. She then pulled the boy into the bathroom and forced him to take a cold shower and sit in hot water while he cleaned himself and his underwear.

Sister Of Brutally Slain Nubia Barahona Sues DCF

Date: 2014-09-16

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The adoptive sister of Nubia Barahona, a young girl who died in the custody of her adoptive parents, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Children and Families.

On Valentine’s Day 2011, police found the decomposing body of ten-year-old Nubia Barahona in the back of her adoptive father’s truck parked on the side of I-95 in West Palm Beach. In the front seat, they found her twin brother Victor suffering seizures from chemical burns.

The lawsuit alleges that Nubia Barahona’s now 11-year-old adoptive sister, referred to as “J.B.” in the complaint, is a “survivor of severe child abuse” and accuses DCF and its employees and agents of “negligence and wanton misconduct.”

Hearing in abused child case postponed again

Date: 2014-09-16


The preliminary hearing for the parents of a 14-year-old Sedgwick County girl diagnosed by a doctor as a victim of child torture has been continued a fourth time.

The girl’s adoptive parents were scheduled to appear in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday, but the preliminary hearing in a criminal case against them has been postponed to Oct. 29.

The Wichita Eagle has been following the case since April as part of its “In Need of Care” series examining child abuse and neglect in the community. The Eagle is not naming the parents because doing so would identify the girl and her three adopted siblings, all of whom police placed in protective custody on March 28.

Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the parents June 6 after earlier filing a child-in-need-of-care petition on behalf of the four children.

The father faces three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child, one count of criminal restraint and one count of criminal damage to property. The mother faces the same charges with the exception of criminal damage to property.

Sheriff: Parents facing charges after "torture" of adopted child

Date: 2014-09-07

WBIR-Dandridge) Investigators in Jefferson County said they believe a 7-year-old boy was tortured by his adoptive parents.

According to Sheriff Bud McCoig, Charles Sealock, 57, and Suzan Sealock, 51, were charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect, and false imprisonment after the boy was found asking a nearby neighbor to trade a pine cone for food Saturday.

"Thank goodness the neighbors called and we were able to intervene," said McCoig. "Detective Taylor said this was the worst case of child abuse she has ever seen here."

The investigation, involving the Department of Children's Services, showed the boy was dirty and covered in cuts, bruises, and scars.

The boy at first told investigators he didn't have a home, then later said the Sealock's locked him a small bathroom for days at a time, and only gave him baby food to eat.

"This 7-year-old had been kept in a 3-by-4 room, small room, without any bedding. And there was actually a chest pushed up against the door so the boy couldn't escape from that room," said McCoig.

Kiana teacher arrested on Missouri child sex abuse charges

Date: 2014-09-05

A Missouri man who spent the past four years teaching throughout Western Alaska has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing his adopted daughter — and is alleged to have subjected his six other adopted children to “years of physical abuse and neglect.”


On Aug. 29, Alaska State Troopers arrested 42-year-old Owen M. Miller in Kiana, where he had been teaching language arts to middle and high school students in the community of more than 350 people just east of Kotzebue.



Miller faces an extraditable warrant from Missouri on five felony counts of child sex abuse, stemming from allegations from one of his adopted children and testimony from at least two more.


“We were contacted by the Missouri authorities,” said Kotzebue trooper Nathan Sheets. “They provided us a copy of his arrest warrant and said they had been told he was in Kiana working as a teacher.”


Eight in Adoption Abuse Case Agree to $17.5 Million Settlement With Foster Agencies

Date: 2014-08-27


Eight young adults with disabilities who were fraudulently adopted by a Queens woman and subjected to years of abuse have agreed to a $17.5 million settlement of their lawsuit against three private New York foster care agencies that had placed them with the woman, a new court filing shows.

The woman, Judith Leekin, 69, who adopted the children in the 1980s and ’90s, was arrested in 2007 in Florida, where she had moved with them. She was later convicted of fraud and abuse charges and is serving a lengthy prison sentence.

The case has long been seen as a horrific breakdown in the city’s foster care system. The authorities said Ms. Leekin used false names to adopt 11 children — one disappeared while in her care and is presumed dead — and she collected $1.68 million in subsidies from New York that were intended for their care but went to support her own lavish lifestyle.

Pound Pup Legacy