Login | June 25, 2018

Abusive adoptive parent’s sentence upheld

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 15, 2017

The 11th District Court of Appeals recently affirmed the sentence of a Jefferson Township man who claimed he locked his adopted children in a bedroom all day for years because Children Services did not train him properly.

David V. Moss pled guilty to four counts of endangering children and one count of attempted felonious assault in May 2016. In exchange, the state agreed to dismiss the remaining 13 counts.

An Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court trial judge sentenced Moss to 10 years in prison.

On appeal, Moss claimed his sentence was not supported by the record.

Case summary shows the four victims were adopted by Moss in 2003. The oldest victim is R.M., who moved out of the defendant’s home on his 18th birthday in 2009. The other three children were biological siblings – two girls, A.M., age 15, S.M., age 13, and R.D.M., a 20-year-old developmentally delayed male.

The abuse came to light in August 2013, when the two girls picked the lock on their door, took the keys to Moss’ van and drove the van for several miles until it crashed.

The girls were placed on house arrest after being charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. They begged the responding Ohio Highway Patrol trooper not to call Moss because they were afraid he would beat them.

Two weeks later, a county probation officer went to the home, suspected abuse and reported it. Three days later, the children were removed from the home.

The girls told sheriff’s deputies and Children Services employees that Moss kept them locked in their bedroom for 22 to 23 hours a day, every day, from September 2011 to September 2013. They were allowed to leave their rooms once or twice a day for brief periods to get food. R.D.M. was kept locked in a separate bedroom.

The doors were locked from the outside of the room and padlocked. The window in the girls’ bedroom was boarded up with a large piece of plywood to prevent them from seeing outside.

Moss put buckets in their bedrooms to defecate and urinate. The victims were only allowed to shower and change underwear once a week. The girls had no clothes in their rooms and were only allowed to wear underwear. The bedrooms had no other furniture besides beds.

The victims were not allowed to attend public school. They were enrolled in home schooling but were not educated at home.

The children were not allowed to socialize with anyone outside the house and could not have any friends or talk to any other children.

R.M., the oldest child who moved out, told officials that Moss and his wife once beat him so severely with a paddle when he was 9 or 10 years old that he bled and had to wear a diaper for a week.

The girls said Moss beat them and their developmentally-delayed brother with a wooden paddle often, and sexually abused them.

Two other older children who had previously been adopted by Moss detailed similar abuse.

At sentencing, Moss apologized for going too far with his “discipline.” He then blamed the children for being too much to handle and Children Services for not teaching him how to parent.

Appellate Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice noted in her 3-0 opinion that Moss’ assignment of error – that the court’s findings were not supported by the record – is different from his argument that the court did not consider all of the seriousness and recidivism factors.

“Even if the court discussed only the more serious and likely-to-reoffend factors, this would not mean that it did not consider the less serious and not-likely-to-reoffend factors,” Judge Rice wrote. “Rather, it would mean that in considering the seriousness and recidivism factors, the court gave weight to the factors it discussed while giving no weight to the others.”

In addition, the trial court did mention that Moss had no prior offenses as a juvenile or adult and found he showed remorse, Judge Rice stated.

Eleventh District judges Thomas R. Wright and Colleen Mary O’Toole concurred.

The case is cited State v. Moss, 2017-Ohio-1507.

Moss’ wife, ReJeana Moss, pled guilty to her role in the crime and has filed a separate appeal.