NORWALK, Ohio -- A boy who had been adopted by a couple on trial for allegedly caging some of their children testified yesterday that he did not like the enclosure that he slept in because it was small and hot. He said some children were struck as punishment.
The boy, the first of several of the adopted children expected to testify in the trial of Michael and Sharen Gravelle, also told the jury that he was sent to a cage for weeks at a time as punishment.
"Mine was really small. In the summertime it was really hot in there. We said we liked them because it made us safe. But we really didn't like them. We said it to make them [the Gravelles] happy," the boy said.
The Gravelles deny abusing some of the 11 adopted, special-needs children in their care and have said they had to keep the youngsters in enclosed beds to protect them. The children suffered from problems including fetal alcohol syndrome and eating disorders.
The Gravelles are charged with 16 counts of felony child endangering and eight misdemeanor child endangering charges. If convicted, they face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each felony count.
The boy also described other forms of punishment that the Gravelles are accused of inflicting on him and other children, including dunking their heads in a toilet, striking them with 2-by-4 lumber, and slapping them across the face.
The boy testified that the children had mattresses and pillows for a while, but by the time they were removed from the home they had not had bedding for some time.