Children testify that they were whipped

Date: 2006-11-30

HEATHER CHAPIN-FOWLER

"Why were you removed from the Gravelles' home?" Huron County Prosecutor Russ Leffler asked a 13-year-old Canton girl, who moved into the couple's Clarksfield Township home when she was 6 and was removed at age 7.

"We told the case workers they were beating us and mistreating us," she replied.

"What can you tell us about the discipline?" Leffler asked the girl's younger brother.

"We'd get whipped with two-by-fours, wooden sticks and switches," he said.

"Where would this take place?" Leffler asked him. "In the barn," the boy answered.

The siblings were two of a five-sibling group who once lived with the Gravelles. Their three siblings remained in the couple's custody until last September, when they removed as part of the case involving cages or enclosed beds they were forced to sleep in and stayed in when punished.

Sharen and Michael Gravelle are facing 24 counts of child endangering and one count of falsification in the trial that began Tuesday in the Huron County Common Pleas Court.

In all, 11 adopted children, many with special needs, were removed from the Gravelles' custody in September 2005, after the Huron County Juvenile Court ruled they were living in abusive situations and they have remained in foster care.

The two former adopted children told the court Michael Gravelle handled all the disciplines such as the "whippings."

"(Sharen Gravelle) would tell Mr. Gravelle when he came home from work and he'd handle it," the boy said under questioning from Leffler.

The girl told authorities several times about being "whipped" at the home and the beatings her siblings received while she lived there, she said under questioning from Leffler.

After she was removed from the home, the girl said, she continued to complain to authorities about the treatment they received at the Gravelles.

The two children also testified about witnessing disciplinary tactics used against their adopted brother, who reportedly had a problem wetting the bed.

"Sometimes, they'd take all the sheets and blankets off his bed and make him sleep on the plastic (covering the mattress)," the boy testified.

The children also testified about the other boy having to sleep in the stand-alone metal bathtub as a punishment for wetting the bed.

"I remember every time we had to take a bath, he had to clean it out before we got in it," the girl said.

Under questions from Michael Gravelle's defense attorney, Richard Drucker, the boy said he was angry at the Gravelles for reportedly abusing his siblings.

"Are you mad at Mr. and Mrs. Gravelle?" asked Drucker.

"Yes, sir," said the boy.

"Are you really, really mad at them?" Drucker asked.

"Yes, sir," the boy repeated.

"Are you mad like if you could take a two-by-four to them, you would?" Drucker asked.

"Yes, sir," the boy replied.

The two children are currently living in separate foster homes, they said.

In addition to the children, members of the investigative team testified as to the conditions of the home during court proceedings yesterday.

The trial resumes today, and, according to Leffler, more of the adoptive children may testify this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

0

Pound Pup Legacy