SPEECH THERAPIST TO INTERVIEW BOY, TESTIFY IN START OF CARROLL TRIAL

Date: 1994-06-30
Source: newsbank.com

SPEECH THERAPIST TO INTERVIEW BOY, TESTIFY IN START OF CARROLL TRIAL

June 30, 1994
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News
        
A speech therapist representing the Carroll family will be allowed to interview 11-year-old Isaiah Carroll today to see if he will repeat allegations that he saw his older brother smother another child to death.

That was the ruling of visiting Judge Richard T. Cole on Wednesday in Greene County Juvenile Court, where a lengthy hearing is set to begin today after the therapist interviews Isaiah. The boy cannot speak, but is able to communicate by answering yes and no questions, and by other means.

Mari-Jo Derkin, a Toledo speech therapist who has worked with Isaiah previously, is scheduled to conduct the interview at St. Elizabeth Medical Center this morning.

Then, she will testify in court about her findings.

Attorneys for Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, the boy's adoptive parents, requested the interview after county Prosecutor William F. Schenck filed court documents saying Isaiah "told" a number of people he saw his older brother James smother Josiah, 12, on June 14, 1993. Josiah was the fourth adopted Carroll child to die under apparently suspicious circumstances in the family's Cedarville home.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to have someone else evaluate Isaiah," Mrs. Carroll said.

She feels the allegations, including one that James sexually abused Isaiah, are untrue. She thinks Isaiah might have been manipulated into making the statements or his statements may have been misinterpreted.

Carroll attorney John Rion said there's a question not only of the reliability of Isaiah's statements, but also about his competency as a witness.

Under Ohio law, a child under the age of 10 is assumed to be incompetent as a witness unless proven otherwise, and Isaiah is functioning at the level of a 5-year-old, Rion said.

Schenck had been opposed to the interview, but now says he's satisfied with the idea because other people besides Derkin, such as Isaiah's regular St. Elizabeth's speech therapist, Diana Dynes, also will be present. So will Steve Bogenschutz, the court-appointed child advocate.

Today's hearing is being held to address a number of custody issues that arose in the wake of Isaiah's statements, along with sworn statements of experts who say evidence shows Josiah was smothered.

So far no charges have been filed in Josiah's death, nor in two other deaths, those of Mollie, 3, and Noah, 3, who died in late 1992.

Last November, James, who is now 18, was acquitted of charges in the homicide of Hannah, 6, the first Carroll child to die. She died Sept. 21, 1992, after being burned with bleach.

The Carrolls pleaded guilty to neglect charges in that death.

James and Hosea, 10, are the only children still living with the Carrolls, who had adopted 10 children. Besides the four deaths in their Cedarville home, a fifth child died in care of a Columbus adoption agency.

Two other children, Samuel, 6, and Isaiah, were removed from the Carrolls' home on Aug. 17 because Cole ruled the family was unable to care for their special needs. Samuel has Down syndrome; Isaiah has a form of paralysis that prevents him from speaking and requires him to use a wheelchair.

Because of Isaiah's "statements," Schenck cut off the family's visits with Isaiah and Samuel, and is requesting that Hosea also be removed from the home.

On behalf of Greene County Children Services, Schenck is asking for permanent custody of Isaiah and Samuel and wants temporary custody of Hosea. He also has asked Cole for protection of Isaiah as a material witness.

The Carrolls' lawyers want the visitation restored and have asked to have Children Services removed from the case.

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