$2 million settlement reached

“These kids were good kids, it’s amazing the positive results you see on children who are placed in a loving, caring home”
Associated Press
Mar 4, 2014


Eleven children forced to sleep in cages by their adoptive parents reached a $2 million settlement with an Ohio county where three of them lived before they were placed in the home outfitted with wire and wood enclosures.

The agreement, which still needs a judge’s approval, likely will bring a close to the series of lawsuits and financial settlements that came after the children were taken out of the home in 2005.

The adopted and foster children ranged in age from 1 to 14 when authorities removed them from their home near Norwalk. Their adoptive parents, Michael and Sharen Gravelle, spent two years in prison for abusing some of the children.

The Gravelles, who said they used the cages at their northern Ohio home to protect children they said acted up and were destructive, lost custody in 2006.

All 11 of the children were placed with foster parents. The oldest two are in college and have used the money from earlier settlements to pay for tuition, said Jack Landskroner, an attorney for the children.

The rest are doing well, Landskroner said, though some scars remain. The children were wrongly portrayed as troubled during the trial of the Gravelles, he said.

“These kids were good kids,” Landskroner said. “It’s amazing the positive results you see on children who are placed in a loving, caring home”

The settlements, he said, will allow them to move forward now.

There have been seven public and private financial settlements with counties and agencies that had a role in placing the children in the home and some of the professionals who were charged with their placement and overseeing their care.

The latest and final settlement was agreed upon last week when officials in Stark County, where three siblings lived before being placed with Gravelles, signed off on the $2 million payout, Landskroner said.

The county will pay $100,000 while the rest will come from its insurers.

County officials maintain they did nothing wrong. Stark County had assurances from another county where the Gravelles lived that they were fit to be adoptive parents and that the children would be monitored, said Ross Rhodes, who oversees the civil division of the Stark County prosecutor’s office.

“With the benefit of hindsight, these children were placed in a very bad situation” Rhodes said.

Officials in Huron County, where the Gravelles lived, agreed to a $1.2 million settlement in 2010. Terms of the other settlements were confidential and not released.



Wish the money could have come from the Gravelles themselves. They took all those kids in for the money not for love so why not have to pay the money out of their pockets instead of the county and the state having to pay. I know that the county and the state is in part responsible for what happened - they should have known better than to place that many children in the home - but they also should have been keeping an eye on them. These were/are special needs kids and they shouldn't have been just adopted and then their cases closed with no further contact from the state so I do feel the state has some responsibility but I feel the bulk of the money should come from the parents.


turnip≠blood, which is why you carry insurance on things.
Ideally, the Gravelles pay it all, but when do you ever see settlement money coming from the perp? When a corporation settles, you the consumer ultimately foots the bill.


Would you house 11 special needs children for between $7,000 to $8,000 a month? I know I would not. They certainly didn't get rich off of the children and the so called cages were actually cribs built to contain the children with serious behavioral issues.

Nobody cared until somebody realized money could be made by the county taking back the children. Counties get paid a lot for foster children but nothing for adopted children. So some excuse was concocted to grab the children and the legal system, counties, and lawyers made a bunch of money by dismantling the Gravelles.

How much of the money does anyone think will actually benefit the children AFTER the big time publicity seeking law firm takes its cut?

shbamn1's picture

I'm glad the state offices are paying. The news media has failed to tell truths on this case. The Gravelles asked the state for help in purchasing safety beds for these children and were denied These children would assault each other and smear feces on the walls and all over. One boy in particular was a main reason why they needed the beds. The news media has failed to let the public know that, that child has since tried to kill his foster parents. Upon not getting help with the beds, the Gravelles made them themselves and were approved by the counties children services. They had these homemade safety beds for 2 years until a new caseworker got involved. These beds didn't lock either. An alarm would sound if a child got out of bed. The state bought beds do lock and look like cages but just in a less crude looking manner.