Neighbor testifies against Gravelle
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Plain Dealer Reporter
Norwalk — Michael Gravelle said he could quit working and earn a living by adopting special-needs children, his neighbor testified Tuesday.
The neighbor, Tom Hall, testified Gravelle told him years ago about a plan to create an orphanage, and that being a foster parent paid well.
“He was probably going to quit his job and build an orphanage and get all the children he could,” Hall testified.
Hall was not surprised when Gravelle built an addition to his home to house the children.
“Wow, he did what he said he was going to do,” Hall said.
Gravelle and his wife, Sharen, are on trial in Huron County Common Pleas Court, each charged with 16 counts of felony child endangering and eight misdemeanor child endangering charges.
Prosecutors accuse the couple of keeping some of their 11 children in so-called cages.
The couple said they built wood and wire enclosures around some of the beds to protect the children from their own destructive behavior.
Hall also told the jury he saw Gravelle hose down one of the children outside in 20-degree weather, and speculated that it was because the child wet his bed.
He did not report the incident to authorities, he said.
Hall testified he got along well with the Gravelles and didn’t fault them for adopting many children.
“It’s great if you can handle it,” he said.
The Gravelles have denied mistreating their children, who were ages 1 to 15 when officials removed them from the Gravelles’ home in September 2005.
Lori Oney, another neighbor, testified that Sharen Gravelle used a “sawed-off broomstick” to beat some of her children in 2001.
During cross-examination, Oney told defense attorney Ken Myers that she notified county social workers in 2001 and 2002 about abuse allegations and the cages. She did not know whether any investigation took place as a result.
“Sharen came to my house and yelled at me for it,” Oney said. “She told me not to come back.”
The 11 children have been in foster care and are awaiting adoption. The Gravelles lost custody in March.
The trial will resume today.
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© 2006 The Plain Dealer