CLEVELAND – A judge dismissed several charges against a couple accused of forcing some of their 11 adopted children to sleep in cages, but the two still face multiple counts of felony child endangerment.
The adopted children had been taken from their home and placed in foster care last fall after a county social worker likened the wood and chicken-wire cages they slept in to kennels.
Judge Earl R. McGimpsey threw out a felony perjury charge and four misdemeanor falsification charges Wednesday, saying the crimes were alleged to have taken place too long ago and the statute of limitations had expired.
Michael and Sharen Gravelle were indicted in February on 16 counts of child endangerment, plus charges of perjury and falsifying documents.
The Gravelles denied mistreating the youngsters and said the enclosures were necessary to keep the children from harming themselves or one another. The children have problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and a disorder that involves eating nonfood items.
If convicted, the Gravelle's could face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each of the 16 counts of felony child endangerment.
The perjury and falsification counts stemmed from prosecutors' claims that between 1997 and 2005 the couple lied to government officials and on a sworn statement ahead of their first adoption. The sworn statement was used to help secure approval of five more adoptions.