4 adoptive parents face dozens of child abuse charges in mid-Michigan
2 couples adopted, fostered nearly 30 kids
DEWITT TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Four adoptive parents living in mid-Michigan are each facing numerous charges in an alleged scheme to adopt children for financial gain and subsequently and secretly abuse them.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office on Monday announced dozens of child abuse charges against couples Joel and Tammy Brown and Jerry and Tamal Flore. Nessel’s office said the charges were brought against the DeWitt, Michigan couples after evidence was obtained relating to the “abuse against eight of the dozens of children adopted through their homes since 2007.”
Each of the four adults are facing separate charges including varying degrees of child abuse, conspiracy to commit child abuse, and failing to report child abuse. Jerry and Tamal Flore face the most charges -- 11 and 17, respectively -- including several counts of first-degree child abuse, which is a felony charge that carries a punishment of life in prison.
According to officials, the couples conspired to adopt children for financial gain with the particular help of Joel Brown, who was formerly employed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s children’s services agency. Brown is accused of using “his expertise in the field of child abuse investigations and the child protection laws to circumvent detection of the ongoing child abuse in his own home and that of the Flores.”
The adopted children were subjected to abuse that masqueraded as discipline, officials said.
“The Brown and Flore families preyed upon dozens of children who were removed from previously abusive biological homes and subjected the children to prolonged routine and systemic mental and physical abuse under the guise of discipline,” Nessel said in a statement. “These two families have adopted or fostered at least 30 children toward an end of immense financial gain.”
Here are the charges against each of the adoptive parents:
Joel Brown, 54, is charged with five counts, including: First-degree child abuse; conspiracy to commit child abuse - second degree; third-degree child abuse; interfering with a crime report; and failure to report child abuse.
Tammy Brown, 53, is charged with three counts, including: First-degree child abuse; conspiracy to commit child abuse - second degree; and third-degree child abuse.
Jerry Flore, 58, is charged with 11 counts, including: Six counts of first-degree child abuse; first-degree child abuse committed in the presence of another child; conspiracy to commit child abuse - second degree; two counts of second-degree child abuse; and interfering with a crime report.
Tamal Flore, 56, is charged with 17 counts, including: Six counts of first-degree child abuse; first-degree child abuse committed in the presence of another child; conspiracy to commit child abuse - second degree; two counts of second-degree child abuse; six counts of third-degree child abuse; and interfering with a crime report.
“These egregious allegations highlight not only a moral and legal failure of those entrusted with the children’s care, but a failure in our systems to ensure children placed in custody are properly taken care of,” Nessel said Monday.
Both couples had been charged for abuse allegations in the past in Clinton County. During previous court proceedings, the charges against the Browns were dismissed, and charges against the Flores were reduced, officials said.
The state AG’s office took over the case earlier this year, and has assisted the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation. The couples were allowed until Friday, Dec. 8 to turn themselves in to authorities on the new charges.