Gravelles lose appeal to get their kids back

Date: 2007-03-15

HEATHER CHAPIN-FOWLER

The 6th District Court of Appeals ''found no assignment of error'' in the ruling by Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Cardwell when he took away their parental rights, court administrator Chris Mushett said.

The appeals court's ruling wasn't available yesterday, but attorneys had been notified of the court's decision, according to sources.

Cardwell ruled on March 30, 2006, that the Gravelle children were abused, and he stripped the couple of their parental rights.

Some of the 11 adopted children, ranging in age from 1 to 15 years old, were forced to stay for extended periods in enclosed beds or ''cages,'' and other conditions in the home also led to Cardwell's ruling.

The Huron County Department of Job and Family Services removed the children from the Gravelle's Clarksfield Township home in September 2005 after confirming the cages were in second floor bedrooms.

The children were placed in various foster homes until the appeal was finalized at which time the court indicated they could then be placed in adoptive homes.

Cardwell stated in last year's ruling, ''The Gravelles have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate an unwillingness to prevent the children from suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse.''

Cardwell's decision also cited Sharen Gravelle's testimony during juvenile court proceedings.

''It is obvious that Mrs. Gravelle still does not see the harm the children suffered in her household,'' Cardwell wrote in his ruling. ''Mrs. Gravelle also admitted to many inaccuracies in a home study affidavit she signed. ... Either Mrs. Gravelle purposefully lied on a statement under oath or she was extremely nonchalant about the accuracy of the information she was providing for a home study that would permit her to adopt children. Either of these scenarios is troubling to the court and certainly reflects adversely on Mrs. Gravelle's credibility.''

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer DeLand and Prosecutor Russ Leffler weren't available for comment late yesterday, nor was Ken Myers, attorney for the Gravelles.

The Gravelles were convicted in December of two misdemeanor and four felony counts of child endangering and five misdemeanor counts of child abuse.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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