Date: 2005-02-15

Associated Press
The Miami Herald

The adopted adult daughter of a couple accused of torturing and starving five of their children was also abused until she left home three years ago, her attorney said Monday.

Shanda Dollar Shelton, 25, will go to court Tuesday to seek visitation with her seven adoptive brothers and sisters, who are between the ages of 12 and 17. The children are living in an undisclosed foster home.

Their parents - John Dollar, 58, and his wife Linda, 51 - are jailed in Utah awaiting extradition to Florida on aggravated child abuse charges.

"I love my brothers and sisters dearly and I miss them terribly," Shelton said in a statement read Monday by her attorney, Bill Grant.

"I think of them every waking moment. Not a minute goes by that I do not long to see my brothers and sisters."

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office said five of the seven children adopted by the couple and living in their upscale home were tortured, starved and forced to sleep in a closet so they wouldn't steal food. Two of the children were not physically harmed.

The Dollars' attorney, Charles Vaughn, did not immediately return a call for comment Monday but has said the couple plans to defend themselves.

Grant said his client wants to "get the ball rolling" toward determining whether all of the seven children could eventually be placed in her custody.

A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Citrus County Circuit Court and Shelton also has planned on making her first public comments on the case, which has drawn international attention.

The young woman suffered much of the same kind of abuse as some of the other children in the Dollar household but never told anyone, Grant said.

"It definitely had to do with violence and concern for her brothers and sisters," Grant said of her reason for not contacting authorities. She left home at 22 and is now married to a man she met at a Tampa community college.

Linda Dollar did not approve of Shelton's husband and Shelton became estranged from the family. She had not seen her siblings in three years, although she talked to some of them on the telephone occasionally, Grant said.

"They know her. They trust her. They love her," Grant said.

The attorney did not detail the abuse Shelton suffered but said when she left home she knew her siblings were being mistreated. She was appalled when she learned that two of her adopted brothers - 14-year-old twins - each weighed less than 40 pounds and another 16-year-old brother weighed less than 60 pounds.

Shelton has requested visitation through the Department of Children & Families, but so far the agency has not responded, Grant said. The agency will not tell her where the children are or how she can contact them, he added. DCF did not immediately return a call Monday from The Associated Press.

She also intends to ask a judge to move the children to a foster home in Pasco County so she can have regular contact with them, Grant said.

Meanwhile, Citrus County Commissioner Gary Bartell and his wife, Joanne, have established a trust fund to benefit the children.


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