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Former Cape Coral resident pleads guilty in child abuse case in Alabama; Lee County case next


MICHAEL BRAUN   | Fort Myers News-Press

Former Cape Coral resident Jenise Rae Spurgeon, facing multiple counts of child abuse in Lee County, has pleaded guilty to similar charges in Alabama.

Spurgeon, 58, entered guilty pleas Wednesday to 11 counts of aggravated child abuse, one for each victim. Her plea deal included a 15-year prison sentence with all but one year on probation.

She also waived her right to a planned Feb. 7 trial in Lauderdale County, Alabama, and all other charges were dropped. She will also serve 36 months of state probation.

The victims in the case, six females and one male, included foster children and children Jenise Spurgeon and her husband, Daniel Spurgeon, adopted. The adoptees had previously been fostered by them, according to police records.

The child abuse case started with several children found intoxicated in a Cape Coral fast food restaurant in 2016 and grew to include charges in Alabama, when one of the children involved provided investigators with a timeline of the abuse. 

The Alabama case alleged long-term abuse and neglect in the Spurgeons' foster/adoptive homes that occurred primarily in Florence, Alabama. The Spurgeons’ three biological children born between 2001 and 2006, were not listed in police reports as among the children abused.

Birmingham Attorney Tommy James, of Tommy James Law, represents the seven victims in civil lawsuits against the Spurgeons and the Alabama Department of Human Resources officials.  

The civil suits involving the former Cape Coral couple, the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources, Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner and various Department of Human Resources caseworkers, remain pending.

The suits claim the Alabama DHR and its employees received complaints of abuse and neglect yet failed to take appropriate action and left the victims with their abusers. The lawsuits allege the DHR missed numerous red flags during the years the Spurgeons fostered and adopted the victims and other children. 

“Without the bravery and strength of these victims coming forward, we would have never known about the horrendous abuse they suffered,” James said. “They showed extraordinary courage speaking up against the Spurgeons, who should have protected them instead of hurt them.”  

“Mrs. Spurgeon willingly participated in the abuse of these children and she deserves punishment. Now DHR needs to answer for failing these children. It is incomprehensible this abuse continued for years right under the noses of DHR workers,” James said.

Jenise Spurgeon's case in Lee County involves 10 charges of child abuse

Jenise Spurgeon's case in Lee County, which involves 10 charges of aggravated child abuse from 2016, was delayed into 2022 due to a defense attorney injury, COVID-19 and other factors.

A pre-trial conference in November before Lee County Judge Robert J. Branning was canceled after a stipulation filed and signed by defense Attorney Peter Ringsmuth, representing Jenise Spurgeon, and assistant state attorney Francine Donnorummo, asked Branning for a delay until March 1.

"There are multiple minor victims, who are located throughout the United States. The charges in Alabama are the most serious charges the Defendant has currently pending," the stipulation recounted. "It is in the best interest of the child victims not to have to testify multiple times, in multiple cases.

"In all likelihood, a resolution of the pending case in Alabama will result in a resolution in the above pending case, without the necessity of a multiple-week trial."

Branning signed off on the stipulation about an hour after it was filed.

Ringsmuth said the victims in the case were scattered across the United States and projected a two-week trial here.

Daniel Spurgeon serving 25-year prison sentence

Daniel Spurgeon, 53, was charged in Lee County with 15 counts, including sexual assault and lewd and lascivious behavior on a child 12 to 18 as well as multiple counts of aggravated child abuse.

He pleaded guilty in 2019 in the Alabama case and was sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole.

Cape Coral police started an investigation in July 2016 when three teenage girls were reported to officers as being extremely intoxicated at a KFC. They told officers they lived with their adoptive/foster parents and other adopted/foster children.

They told officers Daniel Spurgeon had given them the alcohol, according to a police report. They detailed being sexually and physically abused by Daniel Spurgeon.

Beyond the mental trauma, officers found that the children hadn't been to a doctor nor a dentist in years.

Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook)@MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or mbraun@news-press.com. 

2022 Feb 2