Deputies describe 'bizarre methods' of discipline
By Spencer Roush
BLOOM TOWNSHIP – Two parents accused of using "bizarre methods" to discipline their children, including allegedly beating them with sticks piled up in the home's basement and forcing one of the children to live and bathe outside, are out on bond since their arrest last week.
The Fairfield County Sheriff's Office intervened when it reported a 15-year-old girl, who was allegedly living outside without a toilet, electricity or running water, slipped a note to a neighbor's door asking for help and food. Deputies reported the girl was wearing tattered, dirty and ripped clothes and shoes when they arrived just before 10 p.m. Sept. 11.
The girl reportedly told deputies she had been living in the shed at the rear of the house, located along Lithopolis Road, for more than a month because she was in trouble for sneaking into her parents' room to use the computer.
Douglas L. Sherman, 64, and Kim E. Sherman, 60, were arrested that night and arraigned on child endangering charges the next day at Fairfield County Municipal Court. The girl and her brother were taken into Fairfield County Child Protective Services custody as they had no family or friends to stay with.
The Eagle-Gazette first reported the arrest Sept. 12, but since the original report was released, deputies have since completed in a more detailed report of what they said they saw that night and what Fairfield County Sheriff's Dave Phalen described as "horrific" conditions.
The shed where the girl was sleeping was described as a 12-foot-by-5-foot area by deputies, according to law enforcement reports. The bed was made of cinder blocks with a sheet of plywood and postal shipping boxes on top of them, officials reported, and she used clothing as her blankets and pillows, the report said.
The neighbor told deputies she had noticed the girl spending a lot of time outside, and on one occasion, reported seeing her bathing outside with a garden hose. The neighbor reported the girl had begged her not to tell her mother they had spoken about her being locked out of the home on multiple occasions, fearing further punishment.
According to the report, the girl, who was described as "unclean" by deputies, was allowed to eat inside but had to go back outside when she was finished and said she was forced to relieve herself in a nearby wooded area.
When deputies questioned Kim Sherman in the basement of the home where the "large sticks" were found, Kim Sherman allegedly said her daughter was living outside voluntarily and that it was "only sometimes discipline," according to the report. Deputies asked to search the home after they reported the girl had told them she did not want to go back inside because her mother "(would) beat the crap out of (her)," sometimes with sticks that are kept int he basement.
When Kim Sherman was confronted about the sticks, she reportedly told officers their large dog liked to chew on them. However, deputies noted in the report that none of the sticks had teeth marks and didn't look as if they had been moved about the room or played with.
Officials said multiple pieces of evidence were collected from the shed and yard area, including pieces of soap with blades of grass on them.
Deputies reported noticing the girl had multiple hiding spaces for her hygienic items, including a deodorant bar that she reportedly told officers she had to steal from a store because she said her mother refused to buy her any. She asked deputies if she could bring along her personal items in addition to the deodorant, including makeup friends had given her and a book, all of which were hidden in the shed.
Kim Sherman is facing charges of endangering children, a third-degree felony.
Douglas Sherman also was arraigned on an endangering children charge, in addition to other charges of intimidation of a crime or witness, a third-degree felony; telephone harassment, a first-degree misdemeanor; and menacing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Douglas Sherman is facing additional charges, according to the report, after he was accused of calling and intimidating the neighbor who alerted law enforcement.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Each third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted.