Liberian sisters to stay with Oklahoma adoptive parents
Judge makes ruling despite son’s claims of abuse
BY ANN KELLEY
FAIRVIEW — Four Liberian-born sisters will remain with their adoptive parents who were convicted in February of abusing a fifth adopted child.
In a closed hearing Monday, Major County District Judge Vinson Barefoot ruled the children would remain with their adopted parents despite testimony from their 28-year-old son that he too was abused by the couple as a child, said the girls’ attorney, Melvin Johnson.
Johnson said he will appeal the decision, and has plans to investigate the couple for adoption fraud.
"These children should not be living with convicted, longtime child abusers,” Johnson said.
The child welfare case is linked to a criminal case involving the abuse of the second-oldest of five sisters adopted in 2005 from an orphanage in the African nation of Liberia.
The girl, now 13, endured abuse from her entire adopted family, according to court records. She is living with relatives in another state.
Her adoptive parents, Ardee Verlon Tyler, 51, and Penny Sue Tyler, 46, were convicted of felony child abuse and received 10-year suspended prison sentences. The girl was tied to bedposts, forced to sleep outside and denied food for several days as punishment, authorities say.
She also was abused by the Tyler’s biological children. Ashton Tyler, 21, was convicted of sexually assaulting her and sentenced to two years in prison with eight years probation. Nathania Tyler, 20, was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery and was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence.
Son claims past abuse
Jeremy Tyler, 28, from Kansas, said his parents never should have been allowed to adopt the children.
"My childhood is riddled with abuse and reasons why,” Jeremy Tyler said in an interview after Monday’s hearing.
He said his stepmother was explosive and constantly degraded him, both verbally and physically.
She washed his mouth out with soap until he’d vomit, hit him with wooden kitchen tools and beat him with belts until his body welted, Jeremy Tyler said.
Jeremy Tyler said he gave the judge school records from when a school nurse was notified about welts that Penny Tyler had left on him after a beating when he was 11.
He said social service authorities were contacted, but nothing ever happened to stop the abuse.
Johnson said the Tylers’ abusive past should have been found by investigators during the impartial home study required for them to adopt the girls.
The Oklahoman has a copy of a report by Oklahoma Home Study in Edmond stating Jeremy Tyler was "very positive about his parents and about them adopting children from Liberia.”
Jeremy Tyler said he was never contacted.
Johnson said the study also reveals the Tylers claimed their annual income exceeded $87,000 and personal assets exceeded $363,000. During the criminal proceedings they reported their annual income as $20,000.
Calls to the Tylers’ attorney were not returned.
During the criminal proceedings against the family, a state Department of Human Services social worker testified it was in the girls’ best interest to remain with the Tylers.
Birth father is concerned
James Andrews, the girls’ biological father, said Monday the news that his four daughters would remain with the Tylers is "distressing.”
"I am suffering. Their family here is suffering, because we have so little information,” Andrews said.
Andrews said when adopting the girls, the Tylers promised him his daughters would be allowed to contact him and there would be regular reports of their life in the United States.
Since the Tylers left Liberia with his children, he’s gotten no word from them. He repeatedly telephones their home, but no one answers, he said.
Andews said he’s begging the Tylers to allow his oldest daughter, Mary, to speak with him.
"I feel helpless. I’m praying for all of them,” Andrews said.