Grandparents on trial in Big Lake abuse

Date: 2008-08-18

by Angela Blanchard

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- From physical abuse, to neglect and psychological torture, the Kelley abuse case of 2006 was called one of the worst ever in state history.

But it's not over yet.

Now the children's grandparents are on trial, charged with failing to report the horror prosecutors say went on around their Big Lake home. Prosecutors say five children were severely abused and denied their basic needs on the property, which is still occupied by Patrick and Sherry Kelley.

But this trial is not about the Kelley parents who pleaded no contest in 2006 to charges of assaulting and endangering their children.

It's about the kids' adopted grandparents -- George Long, 69, and his wife Shirley, 63 -- and their role in any abuse or neglect.

"There was hardly ever any food, we sometimes got one meal a day," said Brooke Kelley, one of the children.

Brooke, whose legal name is Shayla, was just 10 years old when she says the abuse started.

Now 19, she told the jury about spending 20-hour work days in the Kelleys' and Longs' gardens, and cooking dinner for the Longs but not getting to eat.

And then there was the abuse. Brooke says her two younger brothers had it the worst.

"George had taken his belt out, and he was whipping my brother with it," Brooke said. "And that was as we were like bringing pails of water and setting them by them, because they would do this thing, they wouldn't only beat them, but they'd dump buckets of cold water on them also, like ice cold water as a punishment also. On top of the beating and all the yelling and screaming and cussing."

Brooke also described the night her brother's legs and torso were severely burned. She says the kids, not medical professionals, were in charge of treating him.

"We would have to scrub his, all of his scabs off and a sponge like for the kitchen, with the yellow and the green pad, the scratchy side of it, the green kind of part, we'd have to scrub all of his scabs and everything off until his legs were nice and pink and with a white film over it," Brooke said.

Brooke says the Longs saw or knew about everything but did little to stop the abuse. In the days to come, the defense will try to convince a jury otherwise.

Brooke also testified that one time George Long told her he was sick of all the abuse and that he was calling the police.

That was 2004, the year Brooke says the children were finally found.

Contact Angela Blanchard at


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