exposing the dark side of adoption
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July 27, 1994

Todd R. Wallack

Dayton Daily News


Greene County prosecutors, angered by Timothy and Kathleen Carrolls' aggressive attempts to regain custody of their adopted children, reached deep into their legal tomes Tuesday to retaliate.

Citing an obscure Ohio administrative rule, prosecutors say the Cedarville parents went too far when they allowed the media to take pictures of their kids during visits. "They're exploiting the children," said Suzanne Schmidt, the assistant county prosecutor who filed a motion to bar such pictures in the future. "Our rules do not permit (it)."

The Carrolls, whose two handicapped children were placed into foster care following the suspicious deaths of four siblings, vigorously deny the charges.

"The cameras don't bother the children," Mrs. Carroll said. "They jump up and down to get on TV. If it was upsetting to them, we would have stopped it."

Visiting Judge Richard T. Cole is expected to rule on the prosecutor's request sometime this week. He heard attorneys argue both sides of the issue at a hearing Tuesday morning.

John Rion, the Carrolls' attorney, said he thinks prosecutors are trying to get the upper hand in the media coverage.

"They're just groping for ways to restrict the Carrolls' ability to make their case," Rion said. The Carrolls maintain custody of two other children without disabilities.

The administrative rule, adopted by the Ohio Department of Human Services, prohibits children in foster care from participating in "publicity activities" without the written consent of the parent or guardian. The consent form must also be kept in the child's case record.

Although the Carrolls were unaware of the rule and did not file a written consent form with the state, Schmidt conceded they could do so at any time. Even so, the court might still bar the media from taking photographs in "the best interest of the children."

None of the attorneys contacted said they had ever heard of the rule being used this way before. "This is a very unusual case," Schmidt replied.

For her part, Mrs. Carroll said she can only remember letting the media take pictures of her children once in recent months. She refused to let a TV station take pictures of the children last week, she said, at the request of Greene County Children Services.

1994 Jul 27