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Published: Saturday, 12/1/2007

U.S. top court won't hear Huron County caged kids custody appeal


WAKEMAN, Ohio - The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the custody appeal of two parents convicted of abusing some of their 11 adopted, special-needs children and making them sleep in cages.

The court ruled this week that it won't hear an appeal by Michael and Sharen Gravelle of Wakeman, about 60 miles west of Cleveland, who were trying to regain custody.

"It was the last gasp, and it wasn't totally unexpected," said their attorney, Ken Myers. "I don't know if the finality has hit them yet, but they understand that this is it, that the kids are gone."

The children were placed in foster care in fall, 2005, as the investigation emerged. The couple lost custody in March, 2006.

The Gravelles were convicted of child abuse and endangering for keeping some of the children in wire and wood enclosures. Each was sentenced to two years in prison, but they are free pending appeal.

A hearing on the criminal appeal wasn't expected until spring, Mr. Myers said.

The Gravelles said the cages were intended to protect unruly and destructive children.

The case prompted the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to increase oversight of cases where there are multiple special-needs children in one home.

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