Mar 5, 2014

Eleven foster kids forced cages reach 2.3million settlement

Eleven foster kids forced cages reach 2.3million settlement. Eleven children who were forced to sleep in cages by their adoptive parents have reached a $2 million settlement after years of legal wrangling.

The agreement, which still needs a judge's approval, was made with an Ohio county where three of the children had lived before they were placed in the home outfitted with wire and wood enclosures.

The adopted and foster children were between 1 and 14 in 2005 when authorities took them from the home near Norwalk, where they lived with their adoptive parents, Michael and Sharen Gravelle.

The Gravelles spent two years in prison for abusing some of the children. They had always maintained that they kept some of the children in the cages for their own safety.

They lost custody in 2006 and all 11 of the children were placed with foster parents.

The oldest two are in college and have used the money from earlier settlements to pay for tuition, said Jack Landskroner, an attorney for the children.

The rest are doing well, Landskroner said, though some scars remain. The children were wrongly portrayed as troubled during the trial of the Gravelles, he said.

'These kids were good kids,' Landskroner said. 'It's amazing the positive results you see on children who are placed in a loving, caring home.'

The settlements, he said, will allow them to move forward now.

There have been seven public and private financial settlements with counties and agencies that had a role in placing the children in the home and some of the professionals who were charged with their placement and overseeing their care.

The latest and final settlement was agreed upon last week when officials in Stark County, where three siblings lived before being placed with Gravelles, signed off on the $2 million payout.

The county will pay $100,000 while the rest will come from its insurers.

County officials maintain they did nothing wrong.

Stark County had assurances from another county where the Gravelles lived that they were fit to be adoptive parents and that the children would be monitored, said Ross Rhodes, who oversees the civil division of the Stark County prosecutor's office.

'With the benefit of hindsight, these children were placed in a very bad situation,' Rhodes said.

Officials in Huron County, where the Gravelles lived, agreed to a $1.2 million settlement in 2010. Terms of the other settlements were confidential and not released.

The investigation into how the children ended up in the home led the state to increase oversight in cases of multiple special-needs children in one home.