Kelleys get out of jail

Date: 2007-01-08

by Rebecca Palsha

Palmer, Alaska - A judge in the Mat-Su Valley handed down a sentence in the Kelley child abuse case today. It was five years with four suspended for Sherry Kelley and two years time served for Patrick Kelley.

The case dates back to September 2004 with allegations that the Kelleys tied their children to a tree and locked one child in a coffin-like box. At first, the pair faced more than 100 charges, but more than two years later and after a plea deal with the state, only three charges remain.

"Sherry got really upset with J.K. She beat him with a stick," said one of the children who alleged that Sherry Kelley abused them.

It's just one claim of child abuse that five children in the Valley made against their adoptive parents, Patrick and Sherry Kelley. Today, a judge said he believed the victims, but not every claim they made.

"I see victims who are without question traumatized and suffering. No question. And I hear testimony which, in many regards, was not contradicted. And I see photographs and other evidence, which are contrary to some of the claims. The claims are startling," said Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael L. Wolverton.

The accusations are horrific. At one point, Sherry Kelley testified that one boy was tied to a tree, while another boy was locked in a coffin-sized box. Kelley says she didn't commit the abuse and doesn't know who did, but let it happen because she was afraid.

"These kids are physically abusing each other and sexually abusing each other. It has to stop. What do I do?" said Joshua Fannon, Sherry Kelley's defense attorney.

After pleading out, the Kelleys are free to go home tonight after serving two years in jail. Four years of probation means Sherry Kelley cannot have any contact with children for now.

One of the victims cried after the judge handed down his decision. The Kelleys hugged their attorneys when they learned they could go home.

Meanwhile, the district attorney said she'd been expecting the Kelleys to get more time.

Wolverton said at one point that the children never should have lived with the Kelleys to begin with. According to Wolverton, the Kelleys told the children's services office that they did not want any children placed in their home who had been dealing with sexual abuse issues.

Sherry Kelley testified one month ago that one of the boys sexually molested another child, which she said led to her extreme behavior in an effort to protect other children within her home.


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