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Abuse suspects plead not guilty

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staff, Gazette
September 20, 2012

— A Lake Geneva couple accused of physically abusing their six adopted children pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Still pending are motions filed earlier by their attorneys to dismiss most of the charges.

Martin and Kathleen O'Brien, both 49, Lake Geneva, appeared Wednesday in front of Walworth County Judge James Carlson.

Defense attorneys earlier filed a motion to dismiss most of the charges, saying:

-- Dates of the allegations are indefinite.

-- Several allegations joined into a single criminal count should be treated as separate offenses.

-- Some of the charges aren't specific as to whether Kathleen or Martin or both were involved.

The felony charges, which prosecutors say began in 2004, involve their adopted children—four of them from the former Soviet Union—who now range in ages from 13 to 19.

The felony charges include shooting pepper spray into a child's face, kneeing a child in the genitals and grabbing a child's ear with enough force to cause the ear to tear and bleed.

The O'Briens also are charged with multiple misdemeanors, including forcing the children to stand naked on the front porch and watch Kathleen and Martin O'Brien and their biological children eat dinner, forcing the children to kneel on rocks in a dog kennel for six or seven hours at a time and forcing one child to stand in the cold with no shoes or socks until his feet turned blue as punishment for stealing food.

Defense attorneys asked the judge to make decisions on the motion before the O'Briens entered pleas, but Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo requested time to file a written response.

Pamela Moorshead, defense attorney for Martin O'Brien, also requested a copy of the videotaped statements from the O'Brien children.

A motion hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 21. Both defendants are free on signature bonds.



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