4 members of Fairview family are charged with abuse of adopted girl

Date: 2008-11-13
Source: Enid News

By Cass Rains Staff Writer

Four members of a Fairview family have been charged with abuse of a girl who is one of five the family adopted in 2005.

Documents filed in the case allege abuse, rape and assault and battery upon the then-12-year-old girl identified in court papers as J.E.J.

Ardee Verlon Tyler, 50, and Penny Sue Tyler, 55, have each been charged with a single felony count of child abuse. Their son Ashton Malachi Tyler, 18, has been charged with a felony count of rape by instrumentation, and daughter Nathania Dellare Tyler, 20, was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery.

They all have entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

According to an affidavit prepared by Major County District Attorney’s Office Investigator Steve Tanio, the abuse occurred sometime between January and October 2007.

On Sept. 9, 2008, Louise Thomas-Johnson was in the process of adopting the girl and told Tanio the girl told her when she had previously lived with the Tylers she had been abused.

The girl told Thomas-Johnson she had been tied with a rope and restrained in the basement of the Tylers’ home in the past year on two consecutive nights, according to the affidavit. The girl said she had been tied with a rope to a chair during the daylight hours those same days.

The girl also told Thomas-Johnson she had been forced to sleep outside one night and in early 2007 had been sexually assaulted by Ashton Tyler in his bed in the basement.

Tanio spoke with Department of Human Services child welfare specialist Whitney Reuss, who investigated a complaint of abuse against Ardee and Penny Tyler in February.

Reuss said she spoke with the 12-year-old girl Feb. 12. The girl told her she had been tied by her hands to a bedpost and kept there for two nights. Reuss interviewed Ardee and Penny Tyler, and Ardee admitted he had tied the girl’s hands to the bed during the evening hours.

On Sept. 24, Tanio spoke with Janice Wichert, who said she had known Ardee and Penny Tyler, as well as the girl, since April 2007. Wichert said she was told Ardee and Penny Tyler forced the girl to stay outside all night long in the cold as punishment for stealing food, according to the affidavit. Wichert said she also was aware of the girl being tied to a bed.

Wichert said in May 2007 she, Beverly Heinrichs and Scott Neufeld met with Ardee and Penny Tyler about the allegations and Ardee admitted to forcing the girl to stay outside, according to the affidavit.

Heinrichs spoke with Tanio Sept. 24 and said she was present May 4, 2007, when Ardee Tyler admitted to forcing the girl to stay outside as punishment for stealing a cookie. Neufeld told Tanio about the May 4 meeting and said he told Ardee Tyler he could report him to DHS for abuse, according to the affidavit.

Neufeld said when he told Ardee Tyler this, his reply was “Maybe you should.”

Tanio also interviewed Ardee Tyler on Sept. 24, during which he admitted to abusing the girl between January and October 2007 at his residence west of Fairview, the affidavit states.

Ardee Tyler said on one occasion in fall of 2007, the girl lied to him and his wife and then urinated on the floor. Ardee Tyler said he told the girl, “If you are going to act like a dog, I will treat you like a dog and let you stay outside,” according to the affidavit. He then forced the girl onto the back porch where she remained from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

On another occasion, Ardee said he restrained the girl by tying her hands with cloth to a vertical post next to the stairwell inside his home, according to the affidavit. He also admitted to tying the girl to the bed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on another occasion.

In all instances involving the girl, Ardee Tyler admitted, “that what I did was wrong and am sorry for doing it. I am sorry for doing all these things and I will never do any of them again,” according to the affidavit.

Ardee Tyler provided Tanio with a written statement of his admissions before two members of the Major County Sheriff’s Office.

Tanio also interviewed Penny Tyler Sept. 24, during which she said she was aware Ardee had disciplined the girl. She told Tanio forcing the girl to stay outside was “not appropriate” discipline for a young child and was wrong to do, according to the affidavit.

Ashton Tyler admitted to sexually assaulting the girl in one instance in 2005, according to the affidavit. Ashton told Tanio, “It was a terrible mistake and I’m sorry. I never did it again, please forgive me,” according to the affidavit. Nathania Tyler is accused of hitting the girl on the back of the head.

Family members are being represented by Enid attorney Norman Lamb. A spokeswoman for his office said Lamb and the family are not giving any statements or comments.

The 12-year-old girl in the case was removed from the Tylers’ residence before the investigation began and is with Thomas-Johnson, Penny Tyler’s first cousin, in Illinois.

The Tylers all are scheduled for a court appearance today in Major County District Court. All are free on bond.

A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon to decide whether or not to remove the Tylers’ other four adopted children from the home. The hearing is closed to the public because it involves juveniles.


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