Image: Parents accused of caging adopted children
Mark Duncan  /  AP file
Michael Gravelle, left, listens Tuesday to closing arguments by defense attorney Ken Myers, who represents his wife, Sharen, right, during their trial in Norwalk, Ohio.
updated 12/19/2006 5:27:30 PM ET 2006-12-19T22:27:30

A couple charged with forcing some of their 11 special needs adopted children to sleep in cages had worked under difficult circumstances to provide a loving family environment, a defense attorney said in closing arguments Tuesday.

But Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler argued that having difficult children “doesn’t mean you put children in cages or boxes.”

Sharen and Michael Gravelle are charged with eight counts each of felony child endangering, misdemeanor child abuse and misdemeanor child endangering. The endangering charges accuse the couple of putting the children at a substantial risk of mental health impairment.

“They were cruel to children,” Leffler said. “The Gravelles aren’t good parents. They never have been.”

Attorney Ken Myers, representing Sharen Gravelle, said wire and wooden enclosures were used because of intolerable behavior by the children.

“They were urinating and defecating all over the house,” he said.

Sharen Gravelle repeatedly shook her head side-to-side as the prosecutor spoke. Michael Gravelle leaned back holding his chin in his right hand.

The Gravelles, who lost custody of the children in March, face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each felony count if convicted.

Richard Drucker, who represents Michael Gravelle, was scheduled to give his closing argument after a lunch break. Then the prosecution gets a rebuttal before jurors begin deliberating.

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