The one-story, brick ranch-style home blends into the working-class neighborhood along Nutmeg Square in this western Ohio city, offering no signs of the terrible secrets it once concealed.
Its former owner will return to court in Dayton on Tuesday to be sentenced for guilty pleas to child rape and related charges in a haunting case that experts call unusual because the perpetrator was an adoptive father and the victims were three boys in his care. The pleas have all but ensured he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The 40-year-old man, whom The Associated Press isn’t naming to protect the children’s identities, said in an interview that he had been a foster parent, youth basketball coach and substitute teacher for years without any problems. He said he didn’t adopt the boys with bad intentions.
“I always wanted to protect kids,” he said during one of two interviews at the Miami County Jail. “Somewhere along the line, things went wrong.”
In an era of stunning cases of sexual abuse of young boys by respected authority figures — priests, Boy Scout leaders, an assistant coach at a famed college football program — the repeated rapes of boys by an adoptive father who also arranged for two other men to rape one adopted son shocked his unsuspecting neighbors, investigators and children’s services officials.
The single man was a foster parent for six other children before he began adopting children in the past three years. He adopted a brother and sister and an unrelated boy, and was in the process of adopting another boy, all age 9 to 12, when authorities arrested him a year ago Sunday after an undercover sting that began when a detective looked into an online posting about “taboo sex.”
Ohio officials don’t believe there has been a comparable case in the state in recent years, and media reports over the past five years show only a handful of reported cases nationally in which adoptive fathers sexually abused children in their care.
Child abuse by adoptive fathers is much rarer than by biological fathers, or by other male relatives and nonrelatives, federal studies have indicated.
“This isn’t a typical situation. It certainly isn’t typical of people seeking adoption,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
“Most abusers of this sort have an interest in a child during a certain period of their development. They are looking for opportunities where they can get access to the kids. They don’t want to have custodial responsibility,” he said.
The adoptive father already has been sentenced here to at least 60 years in prison. In Dayton, he is expected to be sentenced to at least 50 years, to run concurrently.