Child abuse case raises questions

Date: 2012-11-28
Source: WTHI TV

Child abuse case raises questions
Updated: Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 2:09 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012, 6:16 PM EST

Gina Glaros
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Department of Child Services confirmed Tuesday that four of the five children were adopted.

The alleged abuse happened in Terre Haute.

Law enforcement compares the children's room to a prison cell.

Police arrested Larry and Nikki Russell after their 17-year-old son escaped from the home, telling authorities that he and his siblings had been tied up and tortured.

Recent news leaves many neighbors with questions.

Dale Gustafson lives about a block and a half away from the Russells.

He said he used to see the kids playing outside.

"Shock. I mean you don't expect that and it's a nice neighborhood around here. Kids playing all the time, nobody ever suspected this," Gustafson said.

News 10 spoke to a parent that's not a stranger to the adoption process. She gives us some insight.

"The system is only going to work as the people that work in the system. There are good case workers out there that do an awesome job and go above and beyond what they should be doing for children. And there're case workers that aren't so good," Kristi Cundiff said.

Cundiff has eight adopted children.

She said the process is extensive, including a home study, criminal background check and fingerprinted for federal background check.

While her kids were in foster care, case workers were required to visit once a month.

Once an adoption happens, it's not required to visit unless a neglect is filed.

Cundiff said it's also up to the public to be diligent.

"Where did society see these kids vs were they kept at home, were they isolated were they not interacting with kids did their friends not come over, did they have friends?"

It's a concerning story that leaves many asking, how an act like this can happen.

DCS can't comment specifically on what happened in this case, but they are now involved with the investigation of the Russells.

Larry and Nikki Russell will appear in Vigo County Court Wednesday for filing of criminal charges.

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