Parents of 7 adopted kids charged with abuse

Date: 2000-05-11

JOSE' PATIO GIRONA
The Tampa Tribune

PLANT CITY - The attorney for a couple accused of child abuse says the teenage children are making up the allegations.

A couple who adopted seven foster children now stand accused of abusing them over the past four years.

During that time, Marjorie Moss beat the children using her hands, feet, a wooden paddle and a 2-by-4 board, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Her husband, Charles Moss, was arrested for failing to prevent or report it, Debbie Carter, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said.

Marjorie Moss, 53, who has served as a teacher for other foster parents, was charged with 25 counts of felony child abuse and nine counts of felony child neglect. Charles Moss, 72, was charged with six counts of felony child neglect.

The seven adopted children, who range in age from 7 to 16, were taken from the home at 8401 W. Franklin Road on April 25 and are now in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, Tom Jones, an agency spokesman, said.

The couple's attorney said the allegations were contrived by the adopted teenage children to get back at their parents for being disciplinarians.

"These people were the epitome of good foster parents," attorney Henry Nobles said. "Now their reputation has been totally damaged. I think it's going to be difficult for someone to be objective after these charges have been filed."

The couple have faced similar allegations in the past, authorities said.

In May 1996, three foster children were taken from their home, and it was no longer allowed to be a foster home after it was alleged that they used corporal punishment on their adopted children, Jones said.

Although it wasn't a foster child who was the subject of corporal punishment, there was fear that it could happen, said Jones, adding that foster parents can't use corporal punishment on foster children.

Since the other children were adopted, there wasn't much DCF could do, Jones said. Investigations began that same year into allegations that the adopted children were being beaten.

Overall, DCF received a total of seven reports from 1996 to this year.

During the interviews, the children recanted the story or denied it, Jones said. But now authorities said there is enough evidence to prosecute.

"Without some type of witnesses or confirmation, there is not much legal action we or law enforcement can take on them," Jones said. "We believe there is sufficient evidence to go forward with prosecution."

The couple were also investigated three times from 1992 to 1996 regarding allegations that they abused their foster children. Those charges were never substantiated, Jones said.

The Mosses were active in foster parenting programs. She was a parent instructor and was also in the Foster Angels of Hillsborough County, an organization that collects Christmas gifts for foster children, Jones said.

"It's a contradiction of terms, so to speak," Jones said.

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