CLEVELAND – An attorney for a couple who kept some of their 11 adopted children in cages at night said Wednesday the youngsters have been placed with foster parents unequipped to take care of their special needs.
Attorney David Sherman (search) said one child found a razor blade in his foster home and shaved patches of his head, and a set of twins has been separated because their foster family couldn't handle them.
The children, ages 1 to 14, suffer from ailments such as autism, fetal alcohol syndrome (search), HIV and pica, an eating disorder in which children compulsively eat nonfood items such as dirt and rocks.
They were taken from Michael and Sharen Gravelle last month and placed in foster homes while authorities investigate why the couple put some of the children in homemade wooden cages to sleep and as punishment during the day.
The couple have denied harming the children, and no charges have been filed.
Sherman recently released photographs showing the children with the Gravelles, laughing and playing in a home full of toys. He said the children were not caged but kept in "enclosures" built around bunk beds to stop them from doing things such as setting fires, eating batteries and cutting themselves.
The enclosures "were approved by licensed social workers," he added in a statement.
The Gravelles had a two-hour visitation with the children on Saturday, which Sherman said was videotaped by case workers. He said the children were in tears following the visit because they didn't want to return to the foster homes.
A message seeking comment was left for the director of the Huron County (search) Department of Job and Family Services.
The state is investigating the adoptions, including who placed the children with the Gravelles, whether rules were followed and whether Huron County responded appropriately once the cages were discovered.
Prosecutor Russ Leffler (search) is awaiting psychological exams of the children before going to a grand jury. The children were not physically abused, but the evaluations will determine whether they suffered emotionally, he said.
A custody hearing in juvenile court is scheduled Dec. 6.