Neighbors praise Gravelles; girl demonstrates size of beds
By CAROL HARPER.
Vilification of the Clarksfield Township parents of 11 adoptive children angered a Clarksfield couple who say they visited the home unannounced for years and never saw signs of abuse.
Carl and Carol Gibson, Clarksfield, live several miles from Michael and Sharen Gravelle, who were convicted Dec. 22 of 11 criminal charges, including child endangering.
In protest to the convictions, the Gibsons participated in creating a video which was aired on a Brunswick Cable Television station to tell citizens about their experiences with the Gravelles and to show a child crawling in and out of the enclosed beds.
A farmer, Carl Gibson, 72, met the Gravelles a number of years ago when he sold a calf to them. Whenever Carl Gibson visited at the Gravelle home, he said he saw well-fed, well-clothed children who played happily, plenty of age appropriate toys and bicycles in the yard, loving discipline when needed, and parents who looked to experts for advice on problems.
"I'm so angry with a system that will come take children out of a decent home," Carl Gibson said.
Gibson first learned the children were removed from the home through gossip about newscasts. Gibson sat in a local restaurant and heard people talking about 11 children being locked in cages. From initial news reports, people made up their minds the Gravelles were guilty, Gibson said, adding people don't want to believe him when he tells them the Gravelles are decent people. Yet as Gibson and his wife sat through witness testimony in court, no evidence was presented of children being in a dog cage, the only structure the same measurements as listed on a search warrant used the day the children were removed from the home, Gibson said.
No evidence was presented of locks being placed on the doors of the enclosed beds Michael Gravelle built, Gibson said.
Carol Gibson, a registered nurse for 42 years, also visited unannounced at the Gravelle home.
A mandated reporter of child abuse -- meaning she could face criminal charges if she witnesses evidence of child abuse and fails to report it to law enforcement or child services employees -- Carol Gibson said she never saw abuse in the home, or she would have reported it.
Even though Carol Gibson never saw the beds, she was told about the alarms on the doors and understood the Gravelles needed to know when the children got out of bed at night.
Carol Gibson worked in a nursing home. If people wandered around at night, alarms were placed on their beds so staff could keep track of them, she said.
Allegations the Gravelles home schooled the children to isolate them also angered the Gibsons.
Especially since Carl Gibson suggested that the Gravelles consider home schooling the children when he heard about problems the older ones were having in a local public school, and learning disabilities of some of the younger ones, he said.
Gibson's granddaughter, who is 18, was home schooled. She is well-mannered, confident and intelligent, Gibson said, adding she tested in the 99th percentile on the ACT college entrance exam.
Complaints home-schooled children are not properly socialized are unfounded, Gibson said. Home schoolers point out their children are not subjected to negative socialization common in schools.
To further prove the Gravelle children's beds were not the monstrous devices claimed by prosecutors, Carol Gibson filmed her granddaughter, Liza Yurovich, 11, climbing in and out of the beds in December of 2005. Tatiana Yurovich, Liza's mother, gave permission for the Register to show the video of her daughter on the Register Web site.