WAKEMAN, Ohio - Huron County sheriff's deputies found 11 children with various disabilities, including autism, locked in cages with alarms in a house near here, authorities said.
Prosecutors are looking into possible charges of abuse and neglect.
The children, ages 1 to 14, were in cages in a house in Clarksfield Township, about nine miles east of Norwalk, Ohio. They had no blankets or pillows, and the cages were rigged with alarms, according to the sheriff's office.
Some of the children had been directed for the last three years to sleep in the cages, sheriff's Capt. Bob McLaughlin said. The children were removed after authorities searched the residence Friday night.
A children's services investigator saw one of the children in a cage Friday, officials said.
Acting on a complaint, the sheriff's department met with a prosecutor and obtained a search warrant from Norwalk Municipal Court Judge John Ridge.
The children were taken to Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk. No information on their conditions was available last night.
The children told authorities they slept in the 40-inch-high by 40-inch-deep cages at night. Doors to some of the cages were blocked with heavy furniture, they said.
Some of the cages were not long enough to lie in without the children tucking their legs in a folded position. None of the cages was tall enough to stand up in, Captain McLaughlin said.
The majority of the children are reported to be autistic, he said.
Sharen and Mike Gravelle are adoptive or foster parents for all 11 children, officials said. Prosecutors are reviewing the case, but no charges have been filed. A Cleveland television station reported all of the children are adopted.
The Gravelles do not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached.
Officials said the parents thought they were doing what was best for the children.
"Basically, the parents thought they were providing for the protection of the children from themselves and from each other," sheriff's Lt. Randy Sommers told the television station.
A woman who identified herself as Sharen Gravelle's mother but would not give her name said the reports about her daughter were not true. She said the children were happy in their new home.
"This year they have played and had fun and laughed like no other children have, which they have never been able to do," she said.
At a hearing yesterday, a judge placed the children in the custody of the Department of Job and Family Services, where officials placed them in four foster homes, said Huron County Juvenile Court Administrator Chris Mushett.
Appearing with a lawyer at the hearing, the Gravelles denied that they abused or neglected the children.41.25227 -82.3989