Fla. Women Charged With Forcing Adopted Children To Fight Each Other | Pound Pup Legacy

Fla. Women Charged With Forcing Adopted Children To Fight Each Other

Date: 2003-04-11

Fla. Women Charged With Forcing Adopted Children To Fight Each Other

Posted: 6:35 a.m. EDT April 11, 2003

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Two women have been charged with abusing adopted children by reportedly beating them with pipes, forcing them to fight each other and feeding them until they vomited.
Nellie Jasper Johnson, 60, once had custody of the alleged victims, police said. She surrendered to police Thursday on charges including aggravated child abuse and child neglect. Her adopted daughter, Colony Latrisa Johnson, 29, was later arrested on charges of child abuse and aggravated child abuse.

The two women punished children by using pipes, a broom and a shoe to hit them, according to records filed in Alachua County court. In one case, a child's thigh was burnt and another child's head was slammed into a wall, records said. Children also were forced to fight with each other and fed until they vomited.

Police learned about the case in 2001 after a child living with the two told Department of Children & Families officials about the alleged abuse, Gainesville Police Detective Patti Nixon said.

No children have lived with the two since Nellie Johnson's parental rights were terminated after a court hearing in September 2001, said Spencer Mann, a spokesman with the state attorney's office.

Police forwarded the names of 19 possible victims to prosecutors, Nixon said. They were aged 7 to 17 when the alleged abuse occurred, she said.

One of Nellie Johnson's adopted sons, Starling Johnson, 27, denied the allegations.

"I just don't think all this is true. There never has been any abuse in this household," he said. "My mother took in children who were troubled kids. She tried to help someone, and she ended up being hurt like this."

All the alleged victims were adopted through Shepherd's Care Ministries in Hollywood, DCF spokesman Tom Barrens said. The group is licensed by DCF to recruit adults to adopt children and to make adoptive placements, he added.

The last adoption occurred in about 1996, Barnes said. The adopted children came from South Florida, including Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Shepherd's Care Ministries officials did not return a phone message seeking comment early Friday.

Both women were being held at the Alachua County jail, Nellie Johnson on $1 million bail and Colony Johnson on $500,000 bail. It could not immediately be determined if the women had attorneys.

Maximum sentences for the various charges filed against both women include 30 years for aggravated child abuse, 15 years for child neglect and five years for child abuse or tampering with a witness or victim.

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