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‘Worse than prisoners of war’: Couple charged for allegedly torturing their 5 adopted children

Prosecutors claim the children were kept in a "dungeon" where they were punished, and they had no food or clothing.
Clermont County Sheriff's Office
Posted at 3:07 PM, Jun 28, 2024

An Ohio mother and father are accused of torturing and cruelly abusing their five adopted children, the county’s prosecuting attorney said in a release.

Officials said the couple, identified as mother Matthew and father Charles Robert Edmonson of Batavia, first took in five biological brothers as foster children. Eventually, all five were adopted by the couple. Each of the children was born with multiple medical issues and had since been in and out of the hospital for problems like bruising, potential internal bleeding and bleach burns — with their parents explaining away each problem.

Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney Mark J. Tekulve said a detective with the sheriff’s office investigated and convicted Charles Robert Edmonson for engaging in sexual relations with a different adopted son, who officials said was an adult at the time but had been groomed from a young age. Following that investigation, Tekulve said the detective recovered several videos showing the parents treating the five biological brothers “worse than prisoners of war.”

Tekulve said the children were shown malnourished and naked, huddled together, trying to stay warm in a locked room in the basement.

During a court hearing for Matthew on Wednesday, prosecutors said the five kids were kept in a “dungeon” when they were punished, and they had no food or clothing. Their mother would then talk to the children through a camera similar to cameras pet owners would talk to their pets through, the prosecution said.

“In videos too graphic to describe, it is very clear that these children were tortured, abused and traumatized on a nearly daily basis,” Tekulve said.

Neighbor Linda McCoy told Scripps News Cincinnati she was in disbelief. She said Matthew appeared to be a very attentive mother to the children when she saw her.

“I never saw her mistreat them,” McCoy said. “Yes, she’d make them mind, but when they played outside they were as happy as ever.”

McCoy said she was more than willing to speak on Matthew’s behalf in court if called.

“She asked if I could talk to her lawyer if he got in touch. I said absolutely,” she said.

The children were removed from the family’s home on Feb. 14, the sheriff’s office said.

Both the mother and father were indicted on five counts of child endangering, third-degree felonies. If convicted, they could face up to 18 years in prison.

The sheriff’s office said Charles Robert Edmonson has been in jail since October.

This story was originally published by Taylor Weiter and Sean DeLancey at Scripps News Cincinnati.