Date: 1992-07-02

Author: GORDON OLIVER - of the Oregonian Staff

A Deschutes County judge refused Wednesday to return a 12-year-old boy to the home of his parents, Dennis and Diane Nason of Sisters, after a daughter of the couple testified that physical abuse had occurred in the home.

Kenny Nason, the boy who had asked to return home from foster care, burst into tears and rushed to his mother's arms following the ruling by Deschutes County Circuit Judge Thomas Mosgrove.

The judge had returned two other children to the Nasons in May. Ten other biological and adopted children, including Kenny Nason, removed by the state Children's Services Division five months ago remain in foster care.

CSD and the Oregon State Police said they are investigating allegations of physical abuse by the couple and sexual abuse by Dennis Nason. No criminal charges have been filed.

The Nasons have adopted more than 80 children from around the world, many of them with disabilities, in the past 20 years. They have denied abusing the children, and a trial has been set for Aug. 18 on the custody issue.

Mosgrove ruled in May that Donny Nason, 15, and Diana Nason, 13, could return to their parents' home. The two children had testified in May, and again at the Wednesday hearing, that they had never been abused in the home and were eager to return to their parents.

Kenny Nason, who turned 12 this week, told the court that he wanted to return to his parents' home. ``That's where I want to go right now,'' the boy said.

In response to questions, the boy said he felt safe in his family home. He answered ``no'' to a string of questions about whether he and other children had been slapped or hit with a paddle, been subjected to yelling or excessive discipline or whether he had seen sexually oriented movies in his brother's room.

Linda Stone Rooper of Joseph, who lived next door to the Nasons for eight months in 1990 and sent her children to the Nason school, testified that Kenny Nason and the other children ``seemed happy and well adjusted.'' She said she saw no conflict between the boy and his parents.

But a 15-year-old adopted daughter gave the first public statements by any member of the Nason family supporting CSD's claims that abuse had occurred on the rural Nason homestead. She said Dennis Nason would sometimes spank his sons with a pingpong paddle or a belt, but lawyers on both sides agreed that the girl would not provide detailed testimony about the alleged abuse until the August trial.

The girl said she only recently realized that such incidents were abusive. She had testified in May in favor of allowing the two other children to return home.

``I realized how horrible some of the things actually were,'' the girl said. ``I knew I couldn't go on that stand and lie about it.''

The girl said her parents had pressured her not to speak against them, but that she had received no direct threats. Diane Nason denied applying any pressure on her daughter.

The girl chose to testify in the judge's chambers so that she would not have to face her parents. Dennis and Diane Nason were able to hear her testimony through a loudspeaker in the courtroom.


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