DHS Investigates Its Handling Of Sperry Child Abuse Case


Thursday, March 15th 2012, 6:40 pm
By: News On 6


WARNING: Graphic Content

The state's child welfare agency is investigating a Sperry couple after they were charged with abusing their adopted children.

The claims include physical and sexual abuse. Investigators say the Oklahoma DHS allowed children to stay in the home even after caseworkers got involved nine years ago.

News On 6 is trying to find out why the agency removed two of the children in 2003 for physical abuse, but left four others, who are now at the center of the allegations.

Investigators call the Sperry home of Aubrey and Lora Thomas a torture chamber. Lora is in the Osage County Jail, but Aubrey already bonded out.

There was no answer when we knocked on the Thomas's door Wednesday, and that's also the case when we ask why DHS left children in the home.

"This is absolutely intolerable. It is our agency's mission to protect children. If we determine that any employee of this agency has not protected children as required, we will not hesitate to take appropriate personnel action," said Sheree Powell, DHS Spokesperson.

DHS says the agency is reviewing who the caseworker was on the Thomas case, whether they are still employed by DHS and what kind of referrals were made.

The Thomas's, who had children of their own, became foster parents in 1997 and eventually adoptive parents.

The couple's adopted children allege they were forced to perform oral sex on their adoptive siblings for food, forced to put urine soaked panties in their mouth if they wet the bed, forced to eat their vomit and forced to eat horse manure for punishment.

03/14/2012 Related Story: Affidavit: Osage County Couple Forced Children To Eat Vomit, Manure

DHS recently settled a federal lawsuit brought by Children's Rights, a child advocacy group, over claims that kids in the welfare system were in danger because of too many cases and not enough safe homes.

02/29/2012 Related Story: Federal Judge Approves Oklahoma DHS Lawsuit Settlement

Children's Rights says this case is shocking, but the fact that it happened is not surprising.

"The discovery that we obtained in the case revealed that all of the children in DHS custody are subjected to an unreasonable risk of harm as a result of DHS's poor practices," said Bill Kapell, Children's Rights Senior Staff Attorney.

Investigators believe the Thomas's were abusing the children in this house during DHS's three-year legal battle with Children's Rights.

The four children are now in protective custody.

The Osage County Undersheriff expects to file more charges of sexual abuse against Aubrey and Lora Thomas. She also says more arrests are expected but won't reveal any names.