CUSTODY FIGHT 'RELIGIOUS WAR,' CARROLLS SAY

Date: 1993-11-24
Source: newsbank.com

CUSTODY FIGHT 'RELIGIOUS WAR,' CARROLLS SAY

November 24, 1993
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News
        
Kathleen and Timothy Carroll say they are fighting "a religious war" to keep their adopted children out of public schools and away from "non-religious counseling," while also trying to get two handicapped children returned to their Cedarville home.

But Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck said the Carrolls' religious beliefs and commitment to home-schooling are irrelevant. "The question is, can they fairly meet the best interests of these children? I don't think so, and I think it's demonstrated by their past track record," Schenck said Tuesday after three hours of testimony in Greene County Juvenile Court.

Lawyers traded barbs as testimony entered its second day in a hearing in which the Carrolls are fighting for the return of Samuel, 5, and Isaiah, 11, who were placed in foster care in August.

Judge Richard T. Cole ordered the two children removed from the home after an inquest into four suspicious deaths brought to light concerns about their welfare.

The Carroll children repeatedly missed therapy appointments and their parents failed to purchase equipment for the handicapped children although ample money was available, Schenck said, noting that the family had been receiving up to $8,000 in monthly subsidies.

The Carrolls dispute Schenck's claims. Mrs. Carroll said she had valid reasons for missing appointments, that certain equipment is difficult to get and that the information Schenck was provided about the family's home-school program was inaccurate.

The hearing is expected to continue this morning before recessing for the Thanksgiving holiday and then concluding on Friday.

John H. Rion, who represents Mrs. Carroll, and Dennis Gump, who represents Mr. Carroll, have argued that authorities are challenging the Carrolls' religious freedom to insulate their children from a public school environment where they might learn ideas that conflict with the family's religious beliefs.

Schenck said he is not opposed to home schooling. Rather, he said, "I am tired of the innuendo and the inference that we're all a bunch of heathens . . . who don't believe in God, who don't have any spiritual character."

Schenck said that the hearing is being held to determine what is in the best interests of the children, "and if that happens to be psychotherapy, public schooling, home schooling, or whatever, so be it."

Mr. and Mrs. Carroll pleaded guilty to child neglect for failing to take Hannah, 6, for medical treatment. She died Sept. 21, 1992, three days after 30 percent of her body was burned with bleach. Her death was ruled a homicide, but 17-year-old James was acquitted of charges stemming from Hannah's death.

Noah, a 3-year-old crack baby died Nov. 15, 1992. His death was ruled natural.

Mollie, a 3-year-old with severe allergies and a genetic defect that causes mental retardation, died Dec. 9.

Josiah, 12, who had cerebral palsy and asthma, died June 14.

The cause of death for both Mollie and Josiah remain undetermined; their bodies were exhumed and re-examined last month, but no charges have been filed as a result. Schenck, however, said it is possible that some charges may arise from Josiah's death.

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