Jury convicts grandfather of assault in child-abuse case

Date: 2008-08-28
Source: ADN.com

MISDEMEANOR: George Long chained grandson to a dog run.

By T.C. MITCHELL, tcmitchell@adn.com

PALMER -- It took a jury here less than four hours to convict George Long of fourth-degree assault Wednesday, ending four years of criminal proceedings in an infamous Valley child abuse case.

The six-member jury got the case about noon and returned its verdict to District Court Judge William Estelle about 3:45 p.m.

Jurors found Long, 69, guilty of chaining his 10-year-old adopted grandson to a dog run.

The judge set sentencing for Oct. 16. The misdemeanor assault conviction can bring as much as a year in jail.

Long and his wife, Shirley Long, 64, were also accused of doing nothing while their grandchildren were abused by the children's adopted parents. But charges of failure to report crimes against children went nowhere when Estelle ruled Tuesday that there wasn't enough evidence to send those charges to the jury and granted a defense motion to acquit.

The victims involved in the Long case are the five adopted children of Sherry and Patrick Kelley. Their treatment at the hands of the family shocked the community when it came to light four years ago.

Accusations of child neglect and abuse surfaced in 2004 when state troopers were called to the family property, located between Wasilla and Big Lake, and found a 10-year-old boy with severe burns that hadn't been treated by medical personnel in some four months after the accident.

The boy was later hospitalized and underwent skin grafts.

The Kelleys were accused of abusing their children, 10 to 15 years old. They were charged with dozens of crimes, including assault and kidnapping.

Later investigation cast doubt on whether the evidence would hold up in court, according to prosecutors.

In January 2007, Superior Court Judge Mike Wolverton accepted no-contest pleas to greatly reduced charges and released the Kelleys, who had served about 17 months in jail.

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