Last 4 Children Are Taken From a Father Accused of Abuse

Date: 1991-08-15

Last 4 Children Are Taken From a Father Accused of Abuse

August 15, 1991

The last four children were removed yesterday from the care of Kodzo Dobosu, the Harlem man who had once won national acclaim as a Father of the Year but is now being accused of sexually abusing several of his children.

In a strongly worded decision, Judge Edward M. Kaufmann of Family Court in Manhattan ruled that removal of all the children was necessary to protect them "from imminent risk to their health."

Judge Kaufmann also criticized the child-care system, saying he was "deeply troubled" that Mr. Dobosu had been able to adopt 35 children from four states during the past 20 years.

"I question how the child-care system could have allowed Mr. Dobosu to adopt these children, and I wonder what investigative authorities wrote in their reports to judges who approved these adoptions," he wrote. Investigation Continuing

Judge Kaufmann also prohibited Mr. Dobosu from visiting his adopted children and urged the Manhattan District Attorney's office to continue its criminal investigation into the charges. Mr. Dobosu, who lives in Harlem, lost custody of 13 of the 17 children in his care after two of them claimed he had sexuallly abused them.

Outside the courthouse, a weary-looking Mr. Dobosu, a single father who had once gained national prominence for helping troubled children, maintained his innocence. "I want my children back," he said. He called on the agencies in four states that had let him adopt the children "to come forward and support me."

Madelyn Chapman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Dobosu, said he would "exhaust every possibility" to try to overturn the decision in appeals court.

The ruling is not a final resolution of the case, but a preliminary decision on where the children should live while the allegations against Mr. Dobosu are being investigated. Representatives of the City Human Resources Administration said the children were being placed in foster care.

The Family Court, which will determine questions relating to the adopted children's welfare, will take up the matter again in a hearing scheduled for Sept. 16. Profiled on Two Programs

The District Attorney's office, which is investigating the criminal charge of first-degree sexual abuse, said it was still gathering evidence. Mr. Dobosu has been charged, but not indicted for the crime, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Before this case, the 51-year-old Mr. Dobosu had been widely praised for adopting many children who were hard to place because of mental and physical handicaps. He was profiled as a hero on "West 57th Street" on CBS and "Frontline" on PBS.

But on May 20 his 14-year-old adopted daughter told a school guidance counselor that Mr. Dobosu had fondled her breasts and inserted a finger into her vagina.

Mr. Dobosu was handcuffed and arrested the next day. In the Family Court hearing that followed, support for his daughter's account and allegations of other wrongdoings surfaced. One Son in Prison

Mr. Dobosu's 14-year-old daughter testified that he had poured hot liquids on the genitals of two children. She said that sex was "rampant" in the home, that male children had sex with females and some older boys had sex with the younger ones.

Detective Tony Petrak of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Squad testified that one of Mr. Dobosu's sons, now in prison for armed robbery in Ohio, had reported that his father had sexually molested him and some of his brothers.

Detective Petrak said Mr. Dobosu's son had also told him that he had been forced to lie across his father's bed while other children held him down and a brother whipped him.

A son whom Mr. Dobosu had asked to testify said Mr. Dobosu often had newly adopted children sleep in his bed. The 20-year-old University of Cincinnati student said his father had never molested any of his children. He said that when he is home on vacations he still sleeps with his father voluntarily.


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