KIDS TELL OF TORTURE BY ADOPTIVE PARENTS

Date: 2005-03-12

Associated Press
The Miami Herald

Five children who say they were abused by their adoptive parents told investigators they were denied food for up to three days and hung by chains in their home, according to court documents.

John and Linda Dollar, who live about 70 miles north of Tampa, have pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated child abuse after five of their seven children told authorities they had been tortured and starved.

Three of the children, ages 12 to 17, were severely malnourished.

The Dollars face 30 years to life in prison if convicted.

The children were placed in foster care after the Dollars' 16-year-old son - weighing less than 60 pounds - was taken to the hospital in January with a head wound and red marks on his neck.

The couple's 14-year-old son told investigators that he and his siblings would sleep in the closet of their parent's master bedroom as punishment for stealing food, according to transcripts of police interviews that were released Thursday.

The boy also alleged the children were spanked with belts, paddles, switches and whips; kicked if they were caught stealing; and on at least one occasion, struck with a cattle prod.

Along with being taped to chairs, chains had been wrapped around their stomachs and their father would hang them until they blacked out, the boy said in the transcripts.

The 14-year-old also told police his toenails had been ripped off with pliers, saying it hurt ``very bad.'' He said he would scream to make them stop.

Investigators have said that two of the Dollars' children appeared not to have been harmed by the couple because they were favored.

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