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Gravelles raise $4,000 toward 'next step'

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:50 PM

Michael and Sharen Gravelle have raised about $4,000 to go toward their appeal on convictions for keeping their 11 formerly adopted children in cages.

"This was significant because it allows them to go to the next step in the process," defense attorney Ken Myers said, noting there are "a great many people" who oppose the Gravelles' efforts.

Auctioneer Steven Kraus, who has known the Gravelles since fall 2006, held the benefit auction at his Sandusky business, the Kraus Auction Haus. Between 15 and 20 residents donated items such as a handmade quilt, a vanity sink mirror worth about $500, power tools and some antiques.

"They got 100 percent of anything that was donated. ... They got money because people gave them cash," Kraus said. "There were several things dropped off when I wasn't there."

Michael Gravelle has been assisting Kraus with manual labor and organizing auction items on a part-time basis since January.

In the fall, the Clarksfield Township couple had another auction, but specific numbers were not available.

The Gravelles want to raise $50,000 for their defense and part of that would be for lawyer fees. The couple earlier met a June 25 deadline to keep the criminal appeal process going with an undisclosed amount of money.

"They still have a lot more to go," Myers said. "We're taking it one step at a time."

It will cost the Gravelles $10,000 to file the transcript of their criminal trial.

"I don't control the funds, but my understanding is they have raised the necessary funds," Myers said.

He explained that the court reporter needs more time to complete the transcript, which could be 3,000 to 4,000 pages long, so Myers submitted a motion to get an extension on the deadline originally Thursday.

"She won't know until she's done with (the transcript) how long it is," he added.

On Dec. 22, a jury found the Gravelles guilty of multiple charges of child endangerment and child abuse. A judge sentenced them Feb. 15 to two years in prison each, but they won't face the pending prison term until the appeal process is completed.

Myers said there are "some very solid issues for appeal." He cited a search warrant suspected of being bad, "the very definition of child abuse" and if the Gravelles got a fair trial in Huron County because of the widespread publicity.

In June, the Ohio Supreme Court denied the Gravelles' request for a retrial on a juvenile court judge's decision giving permanent custody of the children to the county.

Myers, earlier this month, said the appeal which could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court wasn't dead, but was "on life support."

An estimated 130 people attended Friday's auction that lasted about 5 1/2 hours.

"It wasn't packed to the fullest, but every seat was filled ... at one time in the auction," Kraus said.

The auctioneer believes the Gravelles were pleased with the benefit auction.

"I think everyone was pleased," Kraus said.

He and Myers encouraged people to continue making donations through PayPal onwww.stevenkraus.com or contribute to the Gravelle Family Legal Defense Fund at any Key Bank branch.

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