COUPLE SEEK DEFENSE HELP IN ABUSE CASE, LETTERS SHOW

Date: 2005-04-08

Associated Press
The Miami Herald

A couple facing charges they tortured some of their adopted children have spent their months in jail urging relatives and friends to help in their defense, newly released documents from the Citrus County state attorney's office shows.

The letters and transcripts of telephone calls are a glimpse into John and Linda Dollar's defense as they each face five counts of aggravated child abuse. The couple has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors say the Dollars tortured and starved five of their seven adopted children, pulling out their fingernails with pliers, shocking them with a stun gun and forcing them to sleep in a closet as punishment for stealing food. Three of the teenage children were so severely malnourished when they were discovered in January that they each weighed less than 60 pounds and appeared to be only about half their age.

Since their arrest, the Dollars have written at least a dozen letters to each other from their separate cells at the county jail, where they are being held without bail. As part of jail policy, the only way they can communicate daily is through letters, which can be opened and inspected.

After reading their children's testimony, Linda Dollar wrote to her husband that she was surprised at what the children told investigators.

"I don't understand. I love the kids so much. I just can't believe this is happening. Things have been blown out of proportion," she wrote.

The couple also has tried to persuade John Dollar's mother, Pauline, to testify.

Pauline Dollar, a retired schoolteacher, lived with the Dollars at their Citrus County home from August until their arrest in February. She told investigators her son and his wife had to be stern with the children because they were wild.

She told detectives she first moved in with her son after he and his wife borrowed $40,000 from her savings to stockpile food, toilet paper and supplies for Y2K - the belief that computers were going to freeze because of a programming glitch on New Year's Day 2000, throwing the world into chaos. They allowed her to live with them to help repay their debt, she said.

Linda Dollar also wrote to her mother-in-law, asking that she support the couple.

"You know how hard John and I tried to be good parents," she wrote. "You know how much food I cooked, clothes I washed and all the material things we provided for the children. You know how much we loved and cared for them."

She also asks for forgiveness.

"Please forgive. You know I tried hard, Mom," she wrote. "Please step up to the plate and let people know we didn't abuse the children day in and day out."

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