Judges rule against prosecutor in 'caged' children case

NORWALK Michael and Sharen Gravelle finally had a decision fall their way. Judges in
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Michael and Sharen Gravelle finally had a decision fall their way.

Judges in the U.S. Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo ruled Friday against Huron County prosecutor Russ Leffler, who argued that Judge Earl McGimpsey should not have dismissed six of the charges against the couple.

The Clarksfield Township couple were at the center of a media frenzy starting in 2005 over the treatment of their 11 special needs children, some of whom investigators claimed were "caged" in enclosed beds.

In December 2007, Huron County jurors found the couple guilty of 11 combined charges of child endangering and child abuse. They were each sentenced to two years in prison, but are out on bond pending appeal.

Leffler filed the appeal in November 2006, citing what he claimed were errors by the court, according to appellate court records.

Leffler contended that falsification and perjury charges were wrongly dismissed against the Gravelles on statute of limitations grounds. Judges didn't buy that argument, and instead ordered the prosecutor's office pay the cost of the appeal.

A message left at Leffler's home seeking comment was not returned Friday.

Michael Gravelle, 59, who now lives in Sandusky, said Friday he was pleased to hear the judges' decision.

"That's good news," he said, adding that he has been studying law online through courses at Colorado Technical University.

The couple filed for divorce earlier this year. Sharen Gravelle could not be located Friday for comment on the appellate court decision.

Cleveland attorney Kenneth D. Myers, who represented the Gravelles in that case, did not return a call seeking comment.

The battle is not over. The Gravelles, too, filed an appeal in their criminal case. Their appeal, filed in March 2007, is still pending. A judge has extended the deadline for filing documents into September, according to court records.

"They stole our children," Gravelle said. "I will fight them till the day I die. If they get away with this, it's a travesty."

Michael Gravelle's criminal trouble goes beyond Huron County. He has pending charges for OVI and for domestic violence in Sandusky Municipal Court. Pretrial hearings are being set in both cases, court records state.