Suspect got custody in local court

Date: 2004-02-13

Indianapolis Star, The (IN)

County judge placed children in care of Bloomington woman now accused of abuse.

Author: VIC RYCKAERT VIC.RYCKAERT@INDYSTAR.COM; Star reporter John Holl contributed to this story.

A Bloomington-area woman accused of restraining children with duct tape gained custody of seven children through Marion Superior Court.

Authorities took 13 children from Diana Lynn Groves, 53, in connection with allegations that she bound children with duct tape and disciplined a girl by loading her into a clothes dryer.

Last week, Monroe County prosecutors charged Groves with three felony counts of child neglect and with being a habitual offender.

It's not clear why Groves chose to file the seven cases in Marion County, but one legal authority said she might have been trying to "forum shop."

"In other areas of the law, people engage in forum shopping, where they get a case filed in front of some judges who are seen as more favorable," said David Orentlicher, a physician, attorney and state representative from Indianapolis.

Starting in May 2002, Superior Court Judge Charles Deiter granted guardianship of six children to Groves and briefly authorized the adoption of a seventh before transferring all cases to Monroe County in February 2003.

The uncontested guardianship cases moved swiftly and were settled no more than seven days after being filed.

Indianapolis attorney Diane Goudy represented Groves in the guardianship cases. Goudy did not return phone calls Thursday.

Adoption records are confidential in Indiana, but a court chronology of the proceedings shows Deiter authorized the adoption on Feb. 6, 2003, then reversed his decision seven days later after an unknown party filed an objection. On Feb. 19, 2003, Deiter sent the adoption and six guardianship cases to Monroe County.

Groves' attorney in the adoption, Franklin Isreal Miroff, was reluctant to talk to The Indianapolis Star.

"I filed a motion to withdraw from that a while ago," Miroff said Thursday. "I was concerned because I couldn't get enough specific information from Ms. Groves, and withdrew because I didn't want to proceed to represent her. I want to leave it at that because you can't draw any conclusions from it."

Groves, police said, has a reputation as a "way station" for adopted children who become too unruly for their parents.

Several of the children in her custody appeared to be from Eastern Europe, Asia and Ethiopia, police said.

Groves, who remains free on $50,000 bond, could not be reached for comment.

Call Star reporter Vic Ryckaert at (317) 444-2750.

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