Neighbor testifies Gravelle wanted 10 children

Date: 2006-12-06

HEATHER CHAPIN-FOWLER

Testimony resumed yesterday in Huron County Common Pleas Court in the child endangering trial of Gravelle and his wife, Sharen, of Clarksfield Township, concerning treatment of their 11 adopted children. The Gravelles had eight children in their home in 2001, Oney said.

The children, who were adopted from various agencies, were removed from the home along with three other children in 2005 by county agencies.

"If (Michael Gravelle) could get 10 children, he said he could quit his job," Oney testified yesterday during questioning by Huron County Prosecutor Russ Leffler.

When asked yesterday after court adjourned as to where he worked, Gravelle said, "I don't remember."

Oney said she spoke about the matter while Gravelle was living with her family after domestic troubles with Sharen Gravelle.

Michael Gravelle lived with the Oneys for five or six months, said Oney.

During that time, Gravelle also told her about one adopted child living in the bathroom and sleeping in the tub as a treatment for his chronic bedwetting.

Oney testified that she reported the conversation to the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services in 2001.

During a visit to the Gravelles' home in 2002, Oney said, she witnessed Sharen Gravelle hitting one child on the back of the legs with a sawed-off broomstick.

"She went after that kid and started really spanking him," said Oney.

Oney said the child was told by Sharen Gravelle not to speak while she was speaking and the child didn't comply, which prompted the spanking.

Oney said she called JFS a second time to report abuse in the Gravelle home shortly after that visit.

At times during the testimony, Oney became emotional while recalling the visit to the home.

She also testified that Sharen Gravelle confronted her about calling JFS in 2001, telling her to stay away from the family's home.

Other witnesses yesterday included foster parents to some of the 11 children.

One foster mother, Brenda Conley, said the child was placed in public schools, where he is "doing wonderfully."

While living with the Gravelles, none of the children regularly attended school outside the home, according to testimony.

Conley also said the child gained weight after arriving at her home and his clothing size doubled in the last year.

Another foster parent, Patricia Smith, testified that her foster child displays "normal" misbehaviors such as talking back to her and not doing what he is told sometimes.

He now sleeps in the bottom bunk of a bed with six or seven blankets as he is prone to being cold, she said.

The child gets "time-outs" and breaks from his favorite toys to remind him of household rules, she also said.

When asked by Leffler if the child displays any unusual behavior, Smith said sometimes he has bad dreams that result in him crying out at night in his sleep.

Ken Myers, defense attorney for Sharen Gravelle, asked Smith, "Are you aware that the night before you got him he attempted to catch his bed on fire?"

"I'm aware that (the former foster parent) found him with a lighter, which no child should ever have access to," said Smith.

Some of the children are listed as potential witnesses as the trial continues today.

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