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In 2006, 509 children died nationwide, while living in foster care. (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 2006)

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An Update from the Family Defense Network of Ohio

Posted: March 29, 2006

Dear Folks:

This letter is quite lengthy, but is extremely important.

Today, Ken Myers, the Gravelle's attorney, is filing several motions in two separate courts. The most important motion he is filing in the criminal court is the motion to suppress evidence based on the fact that the social worker lied in her statement in order to obtain the warrant from the judge.

Enclosed Security Beds (Click to view larger image - caution very large file)

Enclosed Beds for Special Needs Children

You might remember that when social worker Jo Johnson was graciously allowed entry into the Gravelle home, she asked to see "the cages." Sharen Gravelle was quick to point at the small dog cage in the living room containing a small dog and answered, "That is the only cage in this house!" When the social worker said she was talking about the "beds," again, she was graciously allowed to see the enclosures built on the beds. None of those enclosures were smaller than 7 feet long by 4 feet high, by 4 feet wide, plenty of room for an adult to sleep in, let alone children. The social worker was told that the doors were never locked. These were not "cages," but simply homemade enclosed bunk beds, with more room than medically approved enclosures used for special needs children. That's right, folks, there are beds manufactured that actually lock the child in. There is a picture of one such bed found below.

But when the social worker returned to the department, her story was quite different. In the actual complaint shown to the judge, it states, "Jo Johnson described the cages as about two and one-half feet tall by three feet long with no room for the children to stand up inside." These are the dimensions of the dog cage. By the way, have any of you ever seen a bunk bed where a child could stand up in the bottom bunk? This entire complaint was worded to make the judge believe that the children were locked in cages like dogs. So the judge issued the warrant.

I really believe since that point, Huron County has been scrambling to do damage control. Everything that has happened since then indicates that the prosecutor and judge have made it almost impossible to win the fight in court or to file an appeal. In order to file an appeal, the transcripts of the trial in juvenile court are needed. The cost of those transcripts has soared to over $20,000.00! You never see social workers kicking down the doors of wealthy millionaires. Why? Because those people have the resources to fight back! It appears that every family that Children's Services are picking on are lower income families, without the funds needed to sustain a long battle to win their case, just like the Gravelles or the Creighton family in California.

Which brings me to the appeal. Ken Myers is also filing an appeal in the 6th District Appellate Court. This action is to appeal the radical decisions by the juvenile court judge that the children were abused and also that they should be ripped from their parents forever. In all of my years in law enforcement, I have never seen this type of action taken by the government. Mind you, there was absolutely no physical abuse of the Gravelle children! They had no marks, scars, or any other evidence of any abuse. The judge completely ignored the law that specifically defines abuse, and used another part of the statute that does not deal with warranted discipline, in order to use the phrase that describes action that will, "impair or retard the child's mental health." This part of the law (2919.22(B)(4)) addresses unwarranted measures, not physical discipline!

To give you an example, I once dealt with a nine-year-old boy in my city that was reported to my office by a schoolteacher who stated that his grades had plummeted, and he was acting depressed. He confided in his schoolteacher that he only had "three months to live." The school contacted his doctor, who told the teacher that the boy's mother had brought him in for a physical three months ago, and there was nothing wrong with the boy. It was discovered that the boy's mother, because she was angry with him, lied to him and told him that the doctor had only given him "six months to live." For the last three months, the boy was convinced that he was about to die. Mom got charged with the law that states a parent cannot use action that will "impair or retard the child's mental health."

That kind of action is what Section 2919.22(B)(4) is to be used for, not cases of excessive physical discipline. If (B)(4) applies to physical discipline, then any so called "expert" could testify that a spanking will "impair or retard a child's mental health." Section (B)(4) was never intended to apply to physical discipline, but the Huron County prosecutor and juvenile court judge sure made it fit their agenda!

I really believe that when the county discovered that the Gravelles were not keeping their children in dog cages, there was a tremendous effort to smear the Gravelles and to fabricate evidence against them. Take for example, the "exposed wire" in the children's bedroom that was in fact, 20 amp Romex inside hole in a wall. The Romex actually had a higher insulating factor than the air-conditioner wire plugged into the electrical socket in the same wall! The prosecutor also dug up incidents from 25 years ago which had nothing to do with the current abuse allegations against the Gravelles. The alleged "sexual abuse" years ago of the daughter Jenna by Michael Gravelle turned out to be a farce! The charges were totally fabricated, but when Michael was "investigated" by social workers, he jumped through all of their hoops because he thought he had to, like thousands of other parents being investigated on bogus or "anonymous" charges. Now, the Huron County prosecutor points to Michael's "cooperation" as though it was an admission of guilt. Give me a break!

Last week, I watched the Huron County assistant prosecutor being interviewed on the news. Her comment was "The most disturbing thing to me is that they (the Gravelles) still don't see that they did anything wrong." My wife told me the vein on the side of my head was pulsating as I yelled at the TV, "That's because they haven't done anything wrong!" The longer the Gravelles are run through the mill, the angrier I get!

Please pray for Ken Myers and the judges who will be addressing the issues involved in the appeal and the motion to suppress. It would be fantastic if this case were to be tossed, both in the Criminal and Appellate Courts.

I will keep you all updated!

Robert R. Surgenor Sr.
Family Defense Network of Ohio

All information in this letter is intended exclusively for general public education and information. It is not intended to be advice or recommendations on how to address any specific case and does not replace individualized legal advice. If you have questions about your specific circumstances, please consult with an attorney.