logo


no avatar

Gravelle siblings to be reunited by Dr. Phil

By Norwalk Reflector Staff • Updated Apr 24, 2017 at 10:51 PM

They’re back, courtesy of Dr. Phil.

Michael and Sharen Gravelle were convicted of child endangerment and abuse for their parenting tactics, including making their children sleep in cage-like enclosures.

Eighteen-year-old Simon says he was a survivor of the abuse. “Dr. Phil” producers tracked down one of Simon’s adopted siblings, a young girl named Abba and surprise the two by reuniting them for the first time in 10 years.

And, there are more shocking revelations when Simon and Abba are reunited with other people from their past, including the person who reported the abuse which then helped with their rescue.

The show will be aired Wednesday — at 4 p.m. on WTOL, channel 11 in Toledo, and at 5 p.m. on WKYC, channel 3 in Cleveland.

The infamous story of the Clarksfield Township “caged kids” case all started with a story the Reflector published on Sept. 12, 2005. It quickly became an international story.

On Sept. 9, 2005, local social worker Jo Johnson, Lt. Randy Sommers and other deputies used a search warrant at the rural Wakeman home of Sharen and Michael Gravelle. Authorities removed the couple's 11 adopted children from the home and placed them in foster homes based on allegations the Gravelles kept some of the children in cage-like structures built around some of the bunk beds.

Fast-forward 2 1/2 years.

In mid-February 2007, the Gravelles were sentenced to two years in prison each for being convicted of child endangering. Huron County Common Pleas Judge Earl McGimpsey, who is now retired, ruled they would remain free on bond, pending appeals.

The couple were released from prison in 2011 — Sharen Gravelle, from the Northeast Pre-Release Center on March 17 and Michael Gravelle from the Hocking Correctional Facility five days later. Both were 62 at the time of their release.

The Gravelles’ therapist, Elaine Thompson, a social worker practicing as an attachment therapist, advised them on parenting techniques. Thompson testified she had undertaken counselling or therapy, including holding therapy, with some of the Gravelle children. She was indicted along with the Gravelles, but through a plea bargain she pleaded guilty to three second-degree misdemeanor counts of failure to report a crime.

Thompson was ordered to surrender her license to practice counseling as a social worker. Also as part of her five years of probation, she was fined $2,250 and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service.

In March 2010, a $1.2 million settlement was reached with Huron County on behalf of the 11 adopted children. The settlement was between the county's insurance consortium, County Risk Sharing Authority (CORSA), and the children's attorneys, Jack Landskroner and Paul Grieco.

The children, their then-current foster and adoptive parents and guardians had to agree with settlement, county commissioners said in March 2010. The commissioners also said “CORSA took the lead” on the settlement to prevent “litigation down the road.”

“This settlement is to provide for these young children and their future. ...This ($1.2 million) will be divided among the attorneys and the children,” Commissioner Gary Bauer said at the time.

Recommended for You