Friday, February 25, 2011

Sheriff: Three Adopted Children Suffered Horrific Abuse

February 24, 2011|From Divina Mims, CNN

Three adopted children who allegedly suffered burns and were forced to eat pet food lived in "inhumane conditions" and might never fully recover, an Oklahoma sheriff said Thursday.

"They have been raised worse than dogs," Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards told CNN of the three malnourished juveniles, who are 9, 11 and 15.

John Kluth, 50, and Sonja Kluth, 57, of Yukon, Oklahoma, are accused by the district attorney's office of three counts of child abuse and three counts of child neglect, authorities said.

The complaint alleges the Kluths confined the 15-year-old boy to a plastic dog carrier for two months and deprived him of food.

The couple, who surrendered Tuesday, were released on a bond of $9,000 each. A phone number for them was unlisted.

"We are certainly not happy with the low bond," Edwards said.

The Kluths confessed to some of the allegations during the execution of a search warrant, the sheriff said. According to an affidavit filed in support of the arrest warrant, Sonja Kluth told investigators that she had tried but lost control of the children and had become a "monster," doing things she never should have done.

The three children are in custody of the Department of Human Services and are improving, according to the sheriff.

All three have stunted growth, Edwards said. He called it the worst abuse case he has seen.

According to the department, the 15-year-old was found sleeping in a box behind an Oklahoma City store on November 28. An investigator learned about child abuse at his residence in Yukon, a city about 15 miles west of Oklahoma City. The teen has an 11-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister.

Originally, the three were foster children in Wisconsin, officials said. The state placed them in the home of the Kluths, who adopted them and were still receiving $1,500 per child per month from Wisconsin after they moved to Oklahoma, Edwards said.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is withholding adoption assistance payments, said Erika Monroe-Kane, communications director for the department.

"On January 20, 2011, we received information from the State of Oklahoma that the children had been removed from the Kluths' home. That same day, we requested additional information from Oklahoma and are still awaiting their response," she wrote in an e-mail to CNN Thursday.