June 25, 2016

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Agency sues for custody of boy born to parents facing child abuse charges

CLEVELAND — A child welfare agency is fighting to obtain custody of a baby born last year to a couple accused of abusing another of their children in 2008.

Within a month of the child’s birth in October, the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services filed in Juvenile Court to take custody of the infant from former Montville Township residents Laura and Kenneth Alex Grad, now of Lakewood.

Kenneth Alex Grad

Kenneth Alex Grad

Laura Grad

Laura Grad

Juvenile Magistrate Elizabeth Howe granted the agency’s motion for temporary custody Nov. 8 because she said the boy’s removal from the home was in “his best interest and welfare,” according to court documents.

A hearing to decide whether the state gets permanent custody of the boy is set for April 17.

The child welfare agency argued in a November complaint that the boy, who’s now 6 months old, was unsafe in his parents’ care because both of his siblings — one of whom police reported had two dozen broken bones as a result of abuse — were taken into protective custody and adopted.

In addition, the agency asserts the boy’s mother is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with children as a condition of parole.

The parents have abuse charges against them dating to May and June 2008, a month after their second child was born.

Laura Grad, 38, was released from Marysville Reformatory for Women in November 2012 and is on parole until the end of next year.

At a 2009 bench trial, Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler found her guilty of two child endangerment charges for failing to get treatment for her son and not guilty on two other charges that asserted she abused the boy herself.

Her 43-year-old husband had his trial postponed for at least the 20th time in Medina County Common Pleas Court last month, making it the longest ongoing case in Medina County still awaiting trial.

Kenneth Grad’s trial has been delayed more than 20 times because of plea changes, a judge recusal, an attorney illness and because he’s had at least 10 lawyers who each needed time to prepare before going to trial.

Grad is charged with five counts of child endangering, three second- and two third-degree felonies, and three counts of second-degree felonious assault.

The trial was set to begin March 20, but Grad — who was representing himself with an attorney on standby — repeatedly told potential jurors during jury selection that he was not an attorney and did not want to represent himself.

County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier then set a new trial date for Sept. 8, and Grad hired Youngstown attorney Dennis DiMartino to represent him.

Grad denies he broke his son’s bones, arguing the boy has a rare and undiagnosed disease that makes his bones brittle. He asserts the disease was passed down to the boy through his mother’s family.

Foster parents who adopted the boy, now 5, told The Gazette the child has suffered no fractures since his adoption.

Grad has been free from the county jail since April 26, 2010, when he posted a $100,000 bail bond.

If convicted, Grad could face up to 30 years in prison.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.