Ex-Father Of the Year Is Indicted In Child Sex

Date: 1991-10-23
Source: nytimes.com

Ex-Father Of the Year Is Indicted In Child Sex

October 23, 1991
RONALD SULLIVAN

A Manhattan grand jury has indicted Kodzo Dobosu, the adoptive father of dozens of hard-to-place children, on charges of sexual abuse involving three children and endangerment involving eight more of the 18 children who lived with him in a Harlem brownstone.

One of his older sons was also indicted on a sexual abuse charge and one of his older daughters on a child endangerment charge. All Mr. Dobosu's children are adopted.

Mr. Dobosu, who gained national prominence and "father of the year" acclaim in 1983 from reports of his adopting at least 35 troubled and handicapped children over the last 20 years, faces from 7 to 21 years in prison if convicted, Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan District Attorney, said yesterday in announcing the indictments.

Law-enforcement officials said that one of Mr. Dobosu's sons, Kwaku Dobosu, 27 years old, was also indicted on a charge of sexual abuse and child endangerment, while one of his daughters, Kianga, 19, was indicted on charges of endangering the welfare of a child. Angrily Denies Charges

At a news conference at the office of his lawyer, Michael Hardy, Mr. Dobosu, 51, angrily denied the charges against him and his children. He said the allegations might have come from some of his children who testified against him in Family Court in August "and that they came forth from their anger and frustration with years of misery."

Mr. Dobosu has remained free since he was arrested on May 21 on a complaint that he sexually abused a 14-year-old daughter, which is the key charge in the indictment against him. He and the two other defendants, who had not been arrested late yesterday, will be arraigned later this month.

At a separate news conference yesterday, Mr. Morgenthau said that his office was still investigating allegations that Mr. Dobosu misappropriated more than $100,000 in public money that had been allocated for the care of his adopted children. The children, welfare officials said, lived in filth and squalor in the four-story brownstone maintained by Mr. Dobosu at 257 West 139th Street.

Mr. Morgenthau said that Mr. Dobosu was charged with sexually abusing the 14-year-old girl, who has accused him of fondling her, and with sexually abusing two of his sons, 14 and 16, over several months earlier this year. Law-enforcement officials said the counts involving the eight other children involved charges of endangerment, and did not include any allegations of sexual abuse.

Kwaku Dobosu was charged with a lesser count of sexual abuse and child endangerment, both misdemeanors that carry a sentence of up to a year in jail upon conviction.

Kianga Dobosu was charged with endangerment, a misdemeanor.

Neither Kwaku or Kianga Dobosu could be reached for comment yesterday. But at his news conference, Mr. Dobosu vehemently defended himself and them. At times angry and then choked with emotion, Mr. Dobosu said he, Kwaku and Kianga had never done anything wrong to the other children, all of whom were removed from his home by city welfare officials by Aug. 15 and placed in temporary foster care.

"I am frightened and frustrated," he said. Was Ohio Adoption Official

After reading the charges against Mr. Dobosu and the two other defendants, Mr. Morgenthau said: "I am always shocked by charges of sexual abuse against children. But I am doubly shocked and troubled when they involve children who were placed in adoption under government and court-sponsored custody."

Mr. Dobosu, who formerly served as an adoption official in the Ohio Department of Human Services from 1984 to 1988, has said he was awarded custody of children by Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California and Delaware child welfare agencies over the last 20 years. His statements could not be confirmed because of states' confidentiality laws.

Sheila Jack, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Social Services, refused to comment when asked if her department was responsible for placing any children with Mr. Dobosu and if her department had ever investigated him over allegations of sexual abuse. Law-enforcement officials said that such allegations were first made against him in 1983, before he took his family with him to Ohio.

Asked if it was possible that Mr. Dobosu could reclaim his adopted children, Ms. Jack declined to comment, citing state laws of confidentiality involving adopted children. Charge Followed Puppet Show

In her complaint last May, the 14-year-old girl first told school officials that Mr. Dobosu had sexually abused her. She made the charge after seeing a puppet show about sexual abuse at the school.

In Family Court hearings in August before Judge Edward M. Kaufmann, one witness, Detective Tom Petrak of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Squad, testified that one of Mr. Dobosu's sons had told him that he and some of his brothers had been molested by Mr. Dobosu.

Court officials said an 18-year-old daughter testified that Mr. Dobosu had had sex with his sons and had allowed older sons to have sex with younger brothers and sisters. They said the same daughter testified that Mr. Dobosu had punished them in cruel and barbaric ways that included pouring hot tea on a son's genitals and hot sauce on a girl's.

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