exposing the dark side of adoption
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Nightmare of abuse reported


Jeremy Meyer

The Colorado Springs Gazette

Parents of eight children in Colorado Springs have been arrested on suspicion of abusing one of their adopted sons in what police say is one of the most horrifying cases they've seen.

Police say that from ages 9 to 11, the boy was forced to spend days and nights in a small room beneath stairs with only a wool blanket and bucket in which to relieve himself, and that his parents at one point forced him to wear a dog collar with an electric shock that they would activate.

"I've been doing these investigations for six years," said Gary Darress, a Colorado Springs police detective who investigates child abuse cases. "In regards to the mental and physical torture, this is one of the worst, psychologically, I've seen."

The Gazette has chosen not to identify the parents to protect the child's identity. Police arrested the parents in late August on suspicion of sexually exploiting a child and child abuse.

According to a court document, the boy's everyday room was a 12- by-12-foot area with a window covered with plywood and an alarm on the door that would sound if he tried to open it. The room had a sleeping bag, a small desk and a chair, police said.

When the boy misbehaved, he was placed in "the hole," a 4-foot- square space beneath the stairs, which also had an alarm on it that would sound if the door was opened, police said. The room had a concrete wall and floor and was without windows, lights or even a pillow, police said. The boy was the only one kept there, and he was given just a wool blanket to keep warm and was ordered to empty the waste bucket in the morning, the arrest affidavit says.

The boy also was forced to masturbate in front of his parents, to exercise outside while naked or while wearing only underwear and to travel to school without clothes on, the document says. He would be permitted to dress in the car once he arrived at school, police said.

Police say the boy had to earn "talking and play privileges" and wasn't permitted to celebrate holidays, including his birthday, or eat with the rest of the family at the dinner table.

His siblings said it would be unusual for the boy to have three meals a day, and he was forbidden to do his homework after school, according to police.

The couple has seven children ranging in age from 5 to 16. Three were adopted, and only this boy was abused, police said. Another child is older than 18.

All of the other minor children also have been placed in foster care, police said. Both parents have been released from jail after posting bonds of $10,000.

The investigation began after the husband, who is no longer with his wife, allegedly called the El Paso County Department of Human Services child abuse hotline in December.

- Jeremy Meyer covers general assignments and may be reached at 476-1623 or jmeyer@gazette.com

2001 Sep 11