Boy Testifies Ohio Parents Kept Him Caged for Weeks

Published December 06, 2006

| Associated Press

A boy who had been adopted by the couple on trial for caging some of their children testified Wednesday that he did not like the enclosure that he slept in because it was small and hot, and 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 for 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 (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 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 on the stand Wednesday morning also described other forms of punishment that the Gravelles are accused of using on him and other children, including dunking their heads in a toilet, striking them with 2-by-4 lumber and smacking across the face.

He 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.

Once, he said, the couple forced him to spend six weeks in his cage copying the Bible's Book of Deuteronomy, a collection of sermons written by Moses. Other witnesses have testified that Michael Gravelle often referred to himself as Moses.

"It's the longest chapter in the Bible so they gave that one to me," the boy testified, adding that he was allowed to leave the cage only to eat.

The boy also said he spent 81 days staying in a bathroom because of a bed-wetting problem.

"I had to sleep in the bath tub," he said. "Whenever somebody used the tub I had to drain it and dry it out so I could sleep."

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