exposing the dark side of adoption
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The sentencing of Gerald B. Hyre brought tears to the eyes of Common Pleas Judge Jane Bond, her voice cracking with emotion. It also brought the maximum penalty of 16 years in prison for felonious assault and child endangering.

Bond noted Hyre's 2-year-old daughter, Kelsey, adopted from Russia by the Kenmore grocery store worker and his wife, Bonnie, appears to have been abused since arriving in this country in early 2002. Bonnie Hyre remains under investigation. Gerald Hyre was charged after he slammed Kelsey on her back after she cried too much. The impact almost severed the child's spine, causing paralysis from the waist down.

Kelsey is now under the care of Susan and Charles Minick of Suffield Township. The foster parents have taken the girl to the doctor 67 times, visits sometimes marked by screams of fear. The foster parents say Kelsey suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. She recoils in fright when shown Hyre's picture.

First, Hyre told doctors and police that he had accidentally dropped Kelsey. But he quickly admitted he "lost control." He pleaded guilty last month. His attorneys sought a lighter sentence, citing the lack of a criminal record, his remorse and the unintended consequences of last September's actions. Was the sentence fair?

It is rare to see a judge display such emotion from the bench. Judges must resist allowing feelings to rule. In this instance, Bond didn't let reason slip. A small girl, brought to this country for a better future, now faces life with her back nearly broken and her spirit nearly crushed. The punishment fit the crime.

2003 Apr 16