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Family Court recommends placement with a more stable parent


Yet another contender for Worst Parent of Forever emerged this week, as a jury convicted Diana Franklin on multiple felony counts of child abuse of her adopted daughter. The girl, now 18, testified that she was underfed, forced to lie naked on a bed while Franklin beat her with a belt, and routinely locked up, often without clothes, in a cinderblock shed, a garage, and even a chicken coop, on the family's farm in Taylor County, Georgia. When Franklin was in a really good mood, she locked the girl in a closet with a Bible so she could learn how much Jesus loves her. Then there was the time when she was 15 and threatened to run away:

The mother made her call the adoptive father and tell him that, and the father replied she couldn’t take the clothes she was wearing.

“I couldn’t wear anything,” the teen testified. “I told her I was going to kill myself.”

Franklin took a small-caliber pistol out of her purse and put it to the girl's head, telling her, "I'll do it for you." When the girl tried to push the barrel away, Franklin warned her to stop moving so much because the gun had a “sensitive trigger.” At that point, one of Franklin's sons walked into the kitchen and said, "Mom, you know you could go to jail for that.” Franklin told the girl "you'd better be thankful" the boy showed up, and later wrote in her journal thanking God for preventing her from doing something "stupid" and for “saving me from what could have been a very ugly and painful outcome.” God is often quite nice that way, except when He doesn't stop abuse in the first place. Mysterious ways and all.

The girl testified that she believed Franklin might have killed her had the boy not interrupted:

“I was scared,” the teen said. “I knew she was capable of anything.” Franklin had told her that she could kill her, bury her on the family’s 73 acres outside Butler, and no one would ever find the body, she said.

It's almost enough to make you think that there's something terribly fucked up with some "Christian" adoptive parents in this great land of ours, maybe. And some, we suppose, are good people.

Samuel and Diana Franklin adopted the girl in 2007, when she was 10, and she was removed from their custody five years later, after a neighbor called in an anonymous tip about the girl's treatment. The neighbor, Dana Hawkins, testified that she first became aware of the abuse in late 2011, when she went on a Christmas shopping trip with Mrs. Franklin and saw her take a plate of food to the locked cinderblock shed:

Hawkins said Franklin told her of the teen’s being disciplined for stealing food, including being locked in a closet with a Bible, flashlight, bread and water. The witness began to cry as she recalled that, adding Franklin also told her the teen had been foraging for food in a compost heap.

Hawkins tearfully confessed she regretted not acting sooner: “That day we went shopping, I should have gone home and called the authorities,” she said.

She'll get no argument from us on that. Still, better late than at a murder trial, right?

The teen testified that before being adopted by the Franklins, she'd been in five different foster homes after being taken from her birth mother at the age of five. The Franklins homeschooled her so she couldn't report what was happening at home. Further, the teen's counselor Lynn Suggs testified that the girl had been diagnosed with oppositional defiant order, which contributed to behavioral problems, and that Franklin stopped giving the girl prescription medicine she'd been on before being adopted, for excellent Parental Choice reasons:

“Mrs. Franklin did not believe in medication,” Suggs said, adding Franklin also didn’t want the teen to see a psychiatrist, because she didn’t want the daughter questioned if she could not be there.

In addition to the girl's testimony, Franklin's own journal detailed her repeated abuse:

The mother referred to the outhouse as the daughter’s “new jail” that was “perfect for her” and even drew a smiling face next to the sentence.

“Today (the child) was let out of solitary confinement,” Franklin wrote in another excerpt. In a third, after the girl was locked up for stealing saltine crackers, the mother wrote that “she gets three crackers a day.”

The girl also testified that she was punished with an electric shock collar designed for dogs, adding that she was once tied to a tree with a rope around her neck after Franklin accused her of "gulping her food like a dog," so she would have to be treated like a dog.

So yeah, pretty much Carrie White's mother. Prosecutors did not specify whether the girl has manifested dangerous telekinetic powers.

Franklin's attorney, Kevin Bradley, had the thankless task of defending the mother and suggested perhaps the girl wasn't totally isolated, since the family took her along to Civil War re-enactment outings; that she chose to live in the cinderblock shed; that she had several chances to tell authorities about the abuse, but never did; and that she was making stuff up for the sake of publicity, because after she was removed from the Franklins' custody, she created a page called "The Chicken Coop Girl" on Facebook and said she planned to write a book about her five years of abuse. Bradley pointed to this as evidence the teen "continues to revel in the attention."

Prosecutor Wayne Jernigan shot back, "With all the hell she went through, she ought to write 10 books." We aren't sure we'd ever want to read them, but yes, writing can be very therapeutic.

RawStory notes that after her conviction on 28 counts, for which she will be sentenced in December for up to 480 years, the judge denied her request "to remain free through Thanksgiving." That seems like a real shame. Doesn't the judge understand how important it is for families to be together for the holidays?

The girl's adoptive father, Samuel Franklin, will be tried separately on related charges; his attorneys are seeking a change of venue because of publicity about Diana Franklin's trial. Both parents are expected to have a far better life behind bars than the girl did in their home, because unlike Bible-beating parents, the government is required to comply with the Eighth Amendment.

[Ledger-Enquirer / Ledger-Enquirer again via RawStory]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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