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Published: Thursday, 4/12/2007

Family services chief resigns in Huron County

NORWALK, Ohio - The director of the beleaguered Huron County Department of Job and Family Services submitted his resignation yesterday - the same day a therapist hired by the agency was sentenced for failing to report the abuse of children forced to sleep in cages.

Erich Dumbeck, who worked for the agency for nine years and had been director since 2004, resigned effective June 1.

He wrote in the letter that he felt God was "leading me in the direction to serve individuals in a different capacity."

His resignation followed the retirement earlier this year of David Broehl, who headed the agency's children's services division.

The agency has been under fire since Michael and Sharen Gravelle of Wakeman, Ohio, lost custody of their 11 adopted, special-needs children and were convicted of child abuse and neglect for making some of the children sleep in wood-and-wire cages.

Elaine Thompson, a therapist hired by the agency to work with some of the Gravelle children, pleaded guilty to three counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect.

She was sentenced Tuesday to five years probation, 500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay a $2,250 fine and surrender her social work license.

Cheryl Nolan, Huron County administrator/clerk, said county commissioners would search for a new director for the agency.

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