Date: 2005-03-16

Associated Press
The Miami Herald

A Citrus County couple charged with gruesome abuse of five adoptive children were denied bail on Tuesday.

John and Linda Dollar 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, Citrus County sheriff's investigators say.

Judge Richard A. Howard said the decision to deny bail was based on the seriousness of the allegations, the weight of the evidence, the fact that the couple had nominal ties to area and that they already fled once.

The Dollars live about 70 miles north of Tampa.

Defense attorney Charles Vaughn tried to portray the evidence against the Dollars as circumstantial. He said the couple had no criminal history.

The children were placed in state foster care after one, a 16-year-old 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 parents' master bedroom as punishment for stealing food.

The Dollars' next hearing is scheduled for April 11.


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