Couple charged with abuse
An Ashtabula County couple accused of locking away three of their adopted children and subjecting them to physical was arrested Thursday.
An Ashtabula County Grand Jury secretly indicted David and Rejeana Moss on Wednesday on nine felony counts, with David Moss facing an additional five counts related to sexual misconduct with the two female minors.
Authorities say the abuse took place during a two-year period between Sept. 1, 2011 and Sept. 12, 2013 at the family’s Dorset Township home. The three victims, two female children and an adult male who is mentally challenged, were adopted by David and Rejeana Moss about 11 years ago.
The children were home-schooled most of the time and had not been allowed to socialize outside of the home for several years, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci said. They told investigators the girls, who shared a room, and the male were locked in their separate bedrooms at the residence “virtually all-day, every day.”
Buckets and a metal container were placed in the bedrooms to use as a bathroom while they were locked inside. The bedroom windows were boarded up, preventing the children from looking outside, Iarocci said. One child would carve marks in the headboard of her bed to keep track of the day of the week.
“The children were provided very little to eat by Mr. and Mrs. Moss during this time,” Iarocci said.
The children said they were beaten by the Mosses so often and hard with a paddle that it had blood stains, he said.
The minor girls also said David Moss committed sexual abuse on each of them. Iarocci said he was not releasing any details about the sexual abuse “but the nature of the charges contained in the indictment reflects the seriousness of such abuse.”
Iarocci said it was unknown at this time if Rejeana Moss knew about the sexual abuse.
Rejeana and David Moss are each facing three counts of kidnapping, a first-degree felony; three counts of felonious assault, a second-degree felony; and three counts of endangering children, a third-degree felony.
In addition, David Moss was indicted on two counts of sexual battery involving a minor, a second degree-felony; and three counts of gross sexual imposition involving a minor, a third-degree felony.
The allegations were discovered after an Aug. 26, 2013 incident.
“The two girls were able to pick the lock of their bedroom, snuck away from their parents’ home, took the family vehicle without the parents’ permission, and crashed the vehicle,” Iarocci said. “The girls were extremely apprehensive about notifying Mr. and Mrs. Moss after the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated the accident, indicating that their parents would kill them and that they were afraid of being beaten.”
After the girls were charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and placed on probation in Juvenile Court, they reported and detailed the abuse to their probation officer, which led to the investigation by the Ashtabula County Children Services Board and Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department.
The Mosses’ residence was searched Sept. 17, 2013, “and several items of substantial evidentiary value that support the claims by the children and adult male were located and taken into custody.”
The children, including another adopted male child who was not abused, and the adult male were removed from the home on Sept. 12, 2013 by Children Services. Iarocci said they “have been doing very well in foster care since that time.”
Iarocci said that in addition to those four individuals there were also two adults who left the home around 2009 or 2010 when they became 18.
He said things in the home “were getting very difficult” around that time.
“Shortly before those boys became adults and moved out — that’s when Mr. and Mrs. Moss became abusive. Once those boys left, the abuse continued on with the others,” Iarocci said. “I can’t tell you what triggered it to cause them to become abusive to the older boys.”
Those adult children will be contacted but Iarocci said their testimony is not necessary.
Iarocci said the investigation took more than a year for several reasons. The key was that the children had been removed from the home and harm and their lives were improving “substantially” in foster care.
“That allowed them to become more articulate about what had occurred. They’ve been interviewed several times,” he said.
In addition, the Mosses knew the investigation was ongoing and Children Services and the Sheriff’s department had been led to believe they were going to cooperate with authorities.
“So the investigation kind of was at a standstill while the authorities were reaching out. Things were delayed for a while,” he said.
Iarocci said the secret indictment was needed because the couple is considered a flight risk.
“We’re going to be asking for a high bond — whether the judge grants it is another thing,” he said.
David and Rejeana Moss are being held at the Ashtabula County Jail pending arraignment before Judge Gary L. Yost.