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Inspired by stories shared by birth parents, adoptive parents, and adult adoptees, PPL explores the dark side of adoption, and the consequences illegal and unethical actions have on future family-life and the well-being of those affected by adoption.

Too many children are placed for the benefit of agencies and based on the demands of prospective adoptive parents.

Too many children are placed in inappropriate homes because the business interests of adoption agencies have higher priority than the safety of children.

PPL documents and archives cases where the child placement system did not work in the best interest of the child and we offer a platform for those who want to express their thoughts and feelings about the dark side of child adoption.

Nineth Annual Demons of Adoption Awards

For the nineth time in succession, Pound Pup Legacy asks its readers to make a tough decision, and decide who will become this year's recipient of the annual Demons of Adoption Award.

Each candidate was nominated by readers of our website, and all were nominated more than once.

Sick and tired of watching that disgusting love-fest the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute pulled off with their annual Angel in Adoption Award TM, Pound Pup Legacy decided to raise awareness about the wrong doings in Adoptionland, and introduced the annual Demons of Adoption Award, in 2007.

Over the years many deserving candidates have received the award, although none have ever publicly acknowledged that.

Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives

Littlest victims: Kate Belus didn't run from the beatings

Date: 2014-11-15

Prevalence of child abuse in Lubbock County has consistently been about twice the state's average

By Sarah Rafique

Kate Belus didn’t run from the beatings that lasted until the wooden dowels broke.

She didn’t run for food so she could finally eat for the day.

She didn’t run toward help.

She was simply running — for hours — in circles outside her two-story home in Round Rock because she was scared of what would happen if she didn’t.

“We had a figure-8 track in the backyard between two big trees and we had a triangular track in the front yard between three trees,” said Belus, 31, who now lives in Lubbock after graduating from Texas Tech. “We literally would run around them for hours on end; that’s hard after you just took a beating to your feet.”

Belus, who was homeschooled and spent all day with her parents, didn’t complain about the punishments, which sometimes led to broken toes hidden beneath her shoes and invisible to strangers.

She never talked back.

Prosecutors vow a retrial after judge declares mistrial in child abuse case of Army major

Date: 2014-11-15

By Ted Sherman

Federal prosecutors say they intend to retry an Army major and his wife charged with abusing their children, after a judge halted the proceedings yesterday over the inadvertent disclosure that the couple’s two-year-old son had died while in their care.

No timetable has been set yet for a new trial for Maj. John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, who are charged with endangerment and assault for abusing three of their six children, while stationed at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County.

A conference on the matter is expected to be held after Thanksgiving.

A mistrial in the high-profile was declared yesterday morning by U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden, a day after one of the prosecutors referred to the dead child, despite orders from the judge to keep the death from jurors because it would be prejudicial to the Jacksons.

The couple, who have been accused of hurting the child, have not been charged with his death, which was ruled by a medical examiner to be from “natural causes.”

Witnesses: Couple accused of murdering girl abused children

Date: 2014-11-14


People who knew the accused killers of a 3-year-old girl had seen the couple spanking and bruising their children, according to redacted police reports released Friday.

Alberto Garcia, 31, and Carla Garcia, 30, fled their southwest Bakersfield home in 2010 before police found Serenity Julia Gandara dead and her 4-year-old brother, Isaiah, abandoned there.

The Garcias were arrested in Mexico in February 2012 and had been awaiting extradition until last month.

In 2010, neighbors and relatives told police they had seen Serenity and Isaiah with apparent signs of abuse, according to the new reports.

Some claimed the children were spanked or had their hands restrained if and when they cried.

Carla Garcia is charged with first-degree murder and three counts of willful cruelty to a child, and Alberto Garcia is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of willful cruelty to a child. Both are being held in jail without bail.

Mistrial declared in child abuse case of Picatinny major and his wife

Date: 2014-11-14

By Ted Sherman

The child abuse trial of an Army major and his wife came to an abrupt end this morning, a day after a prosecutor mistakenly disclosed to jurors that an adopted two-year-old son of the couple had died in their care.

U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden, who had ordered that the child’s death be kept from the jury because it would be prejudicial, declared a mistrial in the high profile proceedings against Carolyn and John Jackson.

“I’m firmly convinced that the right to a fair trail has slipped away,” said Hayden.

She said while the mistake was not malicious or intentional, it was unfair to the defendants to proceed, with the jury now knowing that one of their children had died.

“It begs imagination and logic to believe the jurors will disregard what they know and what they learned,” she said—that their son died while in their custody.

Judge weighs mistrial in child abuse trial of U.S. Army major and wife

Date: 2014-11-13

By Thomas Zambito

Newark - A federal judge cut off testimony in the child abuse trial of Army Major John Jackson and his wife and sent jurors home today after a prosecutor slipped and suggested that one of the couple’s three adopted children had died.

Defense attorneys for the Jacksons immediately demanded a mistrial out of earshot of jurors who, because of a pre-trial ruling, were not supposed to learn of the youngster’s death in 2008 before he’d turned three.

U.S. District Court Judge Katharine Hayden said she will rule Friday morning on whether to declare a mistrial several weeks into the government’s case against John and Carolyn Jackson.

The Jacksons are facing child endangerment and assault charges for abusing and neglecting three of their adopted children through harsh discipline that included feeding them red hot pepper flakes and pouring hot sauce into their mouths.

The couple was living at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County with their three biological children and three adopted children when some of the abuse is alleged to have occurred. They had previously lived in Oklahoma.

Fighting for The Safety of Kids in Foster-Care System

Date: 2014-11-12

By Aidan O’Shea

When an Ohio couple began adopting high-risk foster children, social services flagged them as a “go-to family.” That couple’s abuse of those children could have been stopped.

Witnesses at the criminal trial of Michael and Sharen Gravelle for the abuse of their 11 foster children testified that the Gravelles had hosed their children off outside in winter, that they had shoved children’s heads into the toilet and flushed, and that they had beaten children with sticks and boards. Most notoriously, the Gravelles made some of their children sleep in wood and wire enclosures. These cages, the Gravelles argued, were used to protect the children from themselves.

Pennsylvania Mother Rana Cooper Stands Trial for Daughter's Abuse

Date: 2014-11-09

By Olivia Demarinis

A Pennsylvania mother will stand trial on abuse charges after she allegedly forced her daughter to eat cat litter and tried to sew her mouth shut.

Rana Cooper, 46, told reporters that she is "a very good mother" after she left Thursday's preliminary hearing.

The girl, now 16 years old, said she was abused because her mother considered her "embarrassing to the family," which is a large group with seven sons.

"I was not allowed to go anywhere with the family," she said.

The girl testified that she suffered from abuse for several years; in one instance, her mother tried to sew the girl's mouth shut but stopped at one jab of the needle. She also testified that her mother would choke her until she blacked out, bit her on the nose, watched as she was attacked by a Rottweiler and held her head underwater in the sink.

"I don't think this child understood how horrific these things were," assistant district attorney for Washington County Traci McDonald said. "She thought it was discipline."

Cross Creek father charged, mother ordered to trial in child abuse case

Date: 2014-11-09

By Scott Beveridge

Rana Cooper leaves district court Thursday followed by her husband, Richard, at right, after they faced charges in the alleged abuse of their daughter.

SLOVAN – A Cross Creek Township man was arrested Thursday on allegations he failed to protect his daughter from what prosecutors claim was horrific abuse she suffered over four years from her mother.

District Judge Gary Halvelka arraigned Richard Allen Cooper, 51, on a charge of endangering the welfare of children immediately after he ordered charges filed against the man’s wife, Rana, 46, to Washington County Court.

“I don’t think this child understood how horrific these things were,” said Traci McDonald, an assistant Washington County district attorney assigned to the case. “She thought it was discipline.”

Rana Cooper, of 159 Cooke Road, is charged by state police with simple assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of children, and she is free on $100,000 unsecured bond. Richard Cooper, of the same address, is free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Husband charged in failing to stop abuse

Date: 2014-11-08

By Janice Crompton / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Washington County man was arraigned Friday on charges that he failed to intervene when his wife beat and assaulted their adopted daughter, disguising abuse as discipline and forcing her to eat cat litter and toilet residue as punishment.

Richard Cooper, 51, of Cross Creek appeared before District Judge Gary Havelka on charges of endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on $10,000 bond.

During the same time, his wife, Rana Cooper, appeared before Judge Havelka, and was held for court on charges that she tried to gouge out her daughter’s eyes and attempted to sew the child’s mouth shut. Police also have accused her of choking the girl until she blacked out and sitting on her so she couldn’t breathe.

Ms. Cooper, 46, also of Cross Creek, was charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault, and reckless endangerment. She was released on $100,000 bond. Her trial date has not yet been set.

The now-16-year-old girl had been abused for at least the past four years, police said. She was adopted at the age of 7 or 8.

Parents arrested for caging son, 19

Date: 2014-10-30


PARIS TOWNSHIP - The adoptive parents of several mentally and physically disabled youths were arrested on warrants requested after a sheriff’s deputy discovered they kept their legally blind and non-verbal son locked in a caged bed.

Timothy Tolin, 66, and Karen “Sue” Tolin, 65, were arraigned Tuesday in Huron County District Court on charges of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony charge, and vulnerable adult abuse-third degree, a high-court two-year misdemeanor. The Tolins were each released on a bond of $5,000, which was set by Huron County District Judge David Herrington.

The 19-year-old man was discovered Oct. 20 by Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Bismack, who had responded to a civil dispute at the Tolin home, located at 3700 Minden Road.

After speaking with the parties involved, Bismack was granted permission to enter one of the bedrooms in the home, where he found the alleged victim.

Michigan couple charged after adopted son found in cage in 'extremely unsanitary' conditions

Date: 2014-10-29

PARIS TOWNSHIP, MI — A husband and wife face a felony charge after their adopted 19-year-old son was found inside a cage in "extremely unsanitary" conditions, Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson reports.

Karen S. Tolin, 65, and Timothy E. Tolin, 66, occupants of the house where their adopted 19-year-old son was found, were arraigned in Huron County District Court Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Each is charged with a single count of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony, and third-degree vulnerable adult abuse, a high court 2-year misdemeanor.

Both are free on $5,000 or 10 percent bonds, court officials said.

Police responded to investigate a civil dispute about 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, to a home at 3700 Minden Road south of Priemer, when they discovered the mentally challenged male teen in a caged bed with the door chained shut, the Huron County Sheriff's Department said in a prepared statement.

"The odor was very noticeable as the deputy began to climb the stairs," Hanson said.

Hearing for foster parents of dead girl, 3, pushed to Monday

Date: 2014-10-28


The family of 3-year-old Serenity Julia Gandara wondered if her foster parents -- her alleged killers -- would ever see trial, but the couple finally made their first Kern County court appearance Tuesday.

Alberto Garcia, 31, and Carla Garcia, 30, are accused of killing Serenity and abandoning her 4-year-old brother Isaiah Gandara in their southwest Bakersfield home in July 2010.

The Garcias then fled to Mexico, taking their two biological children and Carla Garcia's son from a previous relationship with them. The couple was apprehended in February 2012, and after exhausting extradition appeals, booked Friday into the Kern County Jail.

"I didn't think they would find (them)," Serenity's paternal grandmother Renee Maese said outside of court Tuesday. "I thank God every day they found them."

During the brief appearance, the Garcias wore jail uniforms and were handcuffed.

Kern County Superior Court Judge H.A. "Skip" Staley agreed to postpone their court appearance until 3 p.m. Monday.

Two arraigned on charges after teen found in cage in Michigan's Thumb

Date: 2014-10-28

By Brad Devereaux

PARIS TOWNSHIP, MI — Two adults were arraigned on charges of unlawful imprisonment and abuse after police found a 19-year-old "mentally disabled" man in a cage that was chained shut inside a Huron County bedroom.

Karen S. Tolin, 65, and Timothy E. Tolin, 66, both occupants of the house where the teen was found, were arraigned in Huron County District Court Tuesday, Oct. 28. Each is charged with a single count of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony, and third-degree vulnerable adult abuse, a high court 2-year misdemeanor.

Both are free on $5,000 or 10 percent bonds, court officials said.

Police responded to investigate a civil dispute about 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, to a home at 3700 Minden Road south of Priemer, when they discovered the mentally challenged male teen in a caged bed with the door chained shut, the Huron County Sheriff's Department said in a prepared statement.

The two suspects were arrested on the charges authorized by Huron County Prosecutor Tim Rutkowski.

All Criminal Charges Against George Harasz Are Dismissed

Date: 2014-10-28

By David Owens

HARTFORD — All criminal charges against George Harasz, a former Glastonbury man who was accused of sexually assaulting boys that he and his former husband adopted through the state Department of Children and Families, were dismissed Tuesday at Superior Court.

Harasz's former husband, Douglas Wirth, was found not guilty after a trial last month.

Prosecutor Anthony Bochicchio told Judge Joan K. Alexander on Tuesday that the 8-year-old boy whose allegations of sexual assault against Harasz would have been the subject of his trial was not capable of testifying.

Bochicchio said that the boy, along with his DCF social worker and court-appointed guardian, attended a preparation session Friday at the courthouse in Hartford. The boy became physically and emotionally overwhelmed, and shut down, when questioned about the abuse that he said he had endured.

"All agreed that it would be in the best interest of the complainant not to testify," Bochicchio said, adding that he could not ethically bring the case to trial.

Fugitive pair returned to Kern County in foster child's death

Date: 2014-10-26

By Tammy Brown

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A man and woman wanted in connection with the July 18, 2010, death of a Bakersfield foster child have been returned by the FBI to Kern County to face charges.

The Sacramento Division of the U.S. Department of Justice made the announcement Sunday.

Alberto and Carla Garcia had been in the custody of Mexican authorities since February 2012 awaiting extradition.

Serenity Julia Gandara, 3, was found dead inside the Garcia's southwest Bakersfield home in 2010. Investigators said Carla Garcia called her sister to tell her about the death, and the aunt called police. Serenity's 4-year-old brother was found asleep in a bedroom.

The sheriff's in-custody webpage shows the Garcias are jailed without bail and scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

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