exposing the dark side of adoption
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$1.2M settlement reached in Ohio caged kids case



TOLEDO, Ohio — Eleven adopted and foster children forced to sleep in cages by their adoptive parents have reached a $1.2 million settlement with the Ohio county where they once lived.

Lawyers for the children contended that Huron County children's services workers should have discovered what was before they did and removed the children.

"There were red flags that should have had the county in their sooner," said attorney Jack Landskroner.

Instead of filing a lawsuit, attorneys for the children negotiated with the county on the settlement, announced Wednesday.

The children suffered from problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and ranged in age from 1 to 14 when authorities removed them from their Norwalk home in 2005. Their adoptive parents, Michael and Sharen Gravelle, are serving two-year prison terms for abusing some of the children.

The county has denied blame and said the social workers did nothing improper. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with the children's services agency.

County officials, Landskroner said, decided it would be better to settle with the children than spending money fighting a lawsuit in court.

A trustee who will oversee the settlement will determine how much money each child will receive while courts will help determine when they receive the money.

Two of the oldest children filed a separate a lawsuit last year against the Gravelles and caseworkers who arranged the adoptions. The suit said the Gravelles were unfit to be parents and should never have gotten custody of the children.

Landskroner said that all the children who were placed with foster parents are doing well now and that the oldest is now in college.

2010 Mar 10