Two sets of parents are accused of adopting children for financial gain, then abusing some of them, Michigan officials say.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced 36 total charges Monday, Dec. 4, against Joel and Tammy Brown and Jerry and Tamal Flore, of Dewitt.
Nessel said the couples adopted or fostered nearly 30 children since 2007. The alleged abuse against eight of the children led to the charges.
“The state believes the Browns and Flores conspired together to adopt dozens of children who were removed from previously abusive biological homes and subjected them to prolonged routine and systemic mental and physical abuse under the guise of discipline and all for personal financial gain,” Nessel said in a Monday news briefing streamed by WILX.
Joel Brown formerly worked with the state for the Children’s Services Agency Office of Advocate for Children, Youth and Families, according to state officials. The attorney general said he “used his expertise in the field” to prevent the detection of the abuse.
Due in part to the children being homeschooled, the alleged abuse went undetected, Nessel said.
As the parents were abusing the children, they were also collecting money from the state, Nessel said. She called it a “failure in our systems.”
“The Flore and Brown defendants were easily able to manipulate the system to receive over $1 million tax free,” Nessel said in the briefing.
Both couples were previously charged with child abuse, but the charges were either dismissed or reduced, officials said.
The attorney general believes there is now enough new evidence, including medical evaluations of the victims and interviews with 10 of the adopted children, to charge the parents again.
“I think it’s a witch hunt,” David Carter, an attorney for the Flores, told The Detroit News. “They’re taking a second bite of the apple and trying to resurrect a case that never should’ve been brought.”
“We believe the same result will occur this time around,” Mary Chartier, Joel Brown’s attorney, told the Lansing State Journal. “We won in court once, and we’re confident that we’ll do so again.”
All four defendants face various child abuse charges and the potential for a life sentence in prison if found guilty, the attorney general said.
Joel Brown, 54, faces five charges and Tammy Brown, 53, faces three. Nessel announced 11 charges toward Jerry Flore, 58, and 17 against Tamal Flore, 56.
The couples have until Friday, Dec. 8, to turn themselves in.