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January 11, 2005

Abused boy, 12, claims parents' jail sentence too light

January 11, 2005 [The Salt Lake Tribune]
By Stephen Hunt

A maltreated 12-year-old boy had just one question Monday about his parents' jail sentence for chaining him in the basement of their Magna home: "Why do they only have to go for six months?"

One reason for the relatively light punishment is that Mark J. and Christina L. Gray have five other children at home.

Convicted by a jury of second-degree felony child abuse, the Grays each faced up to 15 years in prison. But 3rd District Judge Robin Reese allowed the couple to stagger their six-month jail terms so one of them can be free to care for the kids. Christina Gray opted to serve her sentence first.

Reese called the Grays "compassionate people, who cared about [the boy]," but who became frustrated with his uncontrollable behavior and constant running away from home.

Reese noted, however, there was an element of punishment in the Grays' behavior.

During the day, the boy was handcuffed and chained to a concrete block, according to charges filed in March 2004. At night, the boy slept on a small rug on a cement floor while chained to a wall, without a blanket or pillow.

Defense attorney Barton Warren claimed the Grays restrained the boy for his own protection. He said the Grays had sought help from numerous public agencies, to no avail.

"They are a caring, loving couple who were faced with an impossible situation," Warren said, pleading for a sentence that did not include jail time.

Warren reiterated the Grays' claim that they received permission from a Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy to chain the boy, after he had been brought home by police more than 20 times. The officer, however, has denied ever using the word "chain."

Prosecutor Paul Parker had asked for up to a year in jail. He said the Grays had exhibited "just flat meanness. . . . They were abusive and nasty to this young man."

At trial, the boy testified that his father and stepmother often deprived him of food. When he was allowed upstairs to eat, he was handcuffed to his chair, he said.

The boy admitted running away from home, but testified he did so to escape physical abuse by his stepmother.

He said she hit and kicked him, stabbed him in the head with a fork, poured jalapeno juice in his eyes and struck him with a piece of two-by-four lumber. At night, she would sometimes pour water on him then turn on a fan, he said.

On Monday, the Grays apologized to the boy, who now lives with an aunt, and said they loved him.

Christina Gray, 36, called herself a "person lacking in wisdom" who made "a poor choice."

Mark Gray, 40, promised he would never repeat his actions, but insisted he chained the boy to protect him.

"He was out for days with no food or shelter or protection from the environment," the father said.
Defense attorney Warren said the boy - who came to live with the Grays because he had been abused by his biological mother - was once gone four days..

Parker said the boy is now attending school and has stopped running away.

"He has a very nice life," Parker said. "That condemns these people [the Grays] as much as anything."

Posted by Nancy at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

Couple Sentenced for Chaining Child in Basement

January 10, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Magna couple will spend six months in jail for chaining their 12-year-old foster child in the basement.

Mark and Christina Gray were convicted in September of second degree felony child abuse and neglect.

The couple were sentenced today to serve staggered sentences of six months each. That way one of them will be able to care for their remaining five children.

The boy, who came to live with the Grays after he was abused by his biological mother, testified he was deprived of food and chained to a concrete block.

He now lives with an aunt.

The state Division of Child and Family Services didn't remove the couples' other children saying the abuse was directed only at the boy.

They were also ordered to complete parenting and anger management classes.

Posted by Nancy at 03:32 AM | Comments (0)

Pastor faces sentencing for child sex abuse

January 10, 2005 Albany, Oregon [Associated Press]

An Albany pastor is scheduled to be sentenced today after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of his young daughter.

A jury found 36-year-old Timothy Sean Sullivan guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse last month. He was pastor of the Liberty Christian Center.

The victim, now 12, is Sullivan's daughter from an earlier relationship.

Sullivan's wife, in-laws, and supporters from his church were with him throughout his six-day trial.

Upon the reading of the verdict, Sullivan slumped in his chair, and wept. So did his family.

Sullivan has maintained his innocence and took the stand in his own defense. His daughter was also called to testify.

She identified her father as the person who molested her. Sullivan's sentencing is set for 3 p.m

Posted by Nancy at 03:19 AM | Comments (0)