Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Bloomfield couple faces abuse charges

by Rob Ireland

May 17, 2012

ELKHORN — There are numerous shocking allegations levied against a town of Bloomfield couple including that they used pepper spray on an adopted child and stabbed another one in the hand with a pocket knife.

Kathleen, 49, and Martin O'Brien, 49, both of N2128 Clover Road, made an initial court appearance Friday afternoon on multiple felony charges of child abuse and were released on signature bonds.

The criminal complaint issued by the Walworth County District Attorney's office also documents alleged incidents where the O'Briens forced the children to sit naked outside and left them in locked room.

Defense attorney Stephen Kramer, who is representing Kathleen, said Monday afternoon he didn't feel comfortable commenting on the case at this point.

More will appear in this week's Lake Geneva Regional News.

Click here to read the criminal complaint. Click Here

According to the criminal complaint:

On Aug. 3, 2011, the children were interviewed at the Walworth County Department of Health and Human services by Paula Hocking. All of the children interviewed were adopted by the O'Briens.

Four of the children are biological siblings from the former Soviet Union. At the time of the interview, the children were between the ages of 12 and 18. One of the boys reported that when one child was punished, all of the children were punished.

n During one incident, a boy who was naked as part of his punishment was sprayed with pepper spray on his neck, face and chest by Kathleen. During that same incident, Martin bent the boy's arm over his knee, hyper-extending the child's elbow. In a taped interview, one of the girls said Kathleen told her the boy had to be pepper sprayed because he was kicking and punching. During this same incident, Kathleen allegedly kicked the boy in his groin.

n After being caught with a pocket knife, Kathleen stabbed the child in the hand causing it to bleed. On Aug. 17, 2011, police searched the O'Brien home and found several notebooks. In a notebook, which appeared to be Kathleen's, she allegedly documented the punishments she gave to the children. In that notebook, she mentions catching the child with a pocket knife.

n The six adopted children were allegedly forced to stand naked in an enclosed porch, while the O'Briens ate dinner. One of the children told a social worker that the O'Briens and their biological children would make fun of the adopted children's bodies.

n All of the adopted children were allegedly locked in a bedroom for four to five days. During that time, the children were allowed out of the room three times a day to use the bathroom, and a bucket was placed in the locked room for them to use if they had to go to the bathroom additional times. Kathleen's journal indicated she locked the children in the bedroom on July 12, 2008; Oct. 6, 2008, and April 12, 2010.