Michael and Sharen Gravelle

Michael and Sharen Gravelle

Michael and Sharen Gravelle are known for having adopted eleven special needs children in Clarksfield Township, Ohio, United States. In 2003 they were indicted for child abuse for, among other things, keeping the children in cage-like enclosures. The Gravelles claimed the cages were made to protect the children from each other.

Their trial motivated legislators in Ohio to pass laws to prevent people from adopting so many children without a great deal of oversight by the state.[1] They used parenting methods similar to those used in attachment therapy, which involves very strict control of children using isolation, food deprivation, and other disciplinary measures that many people consider excessive. The trial gained international attention and brought many inadequacies of the adoption services systems in Ohio to the fore.

In 2005 the Gravelles were sentenced to two years in prison for their crimes.[2] According to Advocates for Children in Therapy and newspaper reports, their therapist, Elaine Thompson, a social worker practicing as an attachment therapist, advised the Gravelles on parenting techniques. Thompson, according to these reports, had undertaken counselling or therapy, including holding therapy, with some of the Gravelle children. Elaine Thompson was indicted along with the Gravelles, but pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in a plea bargain.[3]

The Gravelles served their two-year sentences from April 2009[4] to March 2011.[5]


  1. ^ Taft OKs changes in adoption process, by Barb Galbincea, The Plain Dealer, 06/22/06
  2. ^ Judge: Caged Children Were Abused, AP story on foxnews.com, 12/22/05
  3. ^ Judge rejects new trial in ‘cages’ case, by Mark Puente, The Plain Dealer, 1/30/07
  4. ^ "Gravelles report to prison". The Morning Journal. 2009-04-06. http://www.morningjournal.com/articles/2009/04/06/news/erie_huron/doc49da356401613669479866.txt. "The Huron County Common Pleas Court ordered the couple last week to report no later than 9 a.m. to begin serving their two-year prison sentences." 
  5. ^ "Michael Gravelle Is Out of Prison". WTAM-AM. 2011-03-21. http://www.wtam.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?article=8320098. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 

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