Citrus County to Add Child Abuse Charges in Alleged Torture Case

Citrus County to Add Child Abuse Charges in Alleged Torture Case

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A couple facing allegations they tortured five of their adopted children will face additional child abuse charges when they are returned to Citrus County later this month.

John and Linda Dollar remain in Utah where they are each being held on a single charge of aggravated child abuse. Five of their seven adopted teenage children told authorities the couple routinely tortured and starved them.

Citrus County Sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said Tuesday that prosecutors will add an additional four counts of aggravated child abuse to Linda Dollar's charge and an additional five counts for John Dollar.

The additional counts could mean that the Dollars could spend decades more in prison if convicted of the crimes although neither has a criminal record.

Tierney said the new counts stem from the same allegations that the Dollars punished five of the children by pulling out toenails with pliers, hitting them with a hammer, administering electrical shocks and forcing them to sleep in a closet at night. The children ranged in age from 12 to 17 and lived with the Dollars and John Dollar's elderly mother in a secluded home in the Citrus County town of Beverly Hills, about 70 miles north of Tampa.

Two of the Dollars children were not abused, the sheriff's office has said. John Dollar's elderly mother appeared to be unharmed and has since gone to live with relatives out of state, Tierney said.

The Dollars are awaiting extradition to Florida after being arrested Friday in Utah. They had been on the run from Florida since Monday when they failed to show up for a hearing with the Department of Children & Families, which has put the children in foster care.

The sheriff's office said it would be at least a week and possibly as long as 15 days before they return the couple to Inverness, the Citrus County seat.

Meanwhile, Charles Vaughn, the couples' attorney, said he could not answer many questions on the Dollars' behalf. Vaughn said he has not had a chance to discuss the growing case against the Dollars with them.

"They want to come back and defend themselves and defend themselves against the charges," Vaughn said. "They want to make sure their side of the story is heard."

The Dollars had raised the seven children since they were adopted as either infants or young children. John Dollar, 58, is a commercial real estate appraiser and Linda Dollar, 51, was a stay-at-home mother who home-schooled the children.

The family has moved often between homes in Florida and Tennessee. State records indicate all the Dollars' children were adopted in Florida from the late 1980s to mid-1990s. The couple also has a grown daughter who was adopted by Linda Dollar in a prior marriage.

On Jan. 21, Linda Dollar called paramedics to report her 16-year-old son was bleeding badly from a cut to his head. When the boy was rushed to a nearby hospital, doctors discovered head and neck wounds and a teen so severely malnourished he weighed less than 60 pounds.

Two other Dollar children, a pair of 14-year-old twins, weighed just 36 and 38 pounds and Tierney said looked like children half their age.

The sheriff's office has said the children show signs of physical injury which back up their allegations.

Tierney said the Dollars were not charged with more crimes earlier because detectives had to work so quickly to get a warrant for their arrest when it was clear the couple had fled Citrus County. Their upscale Provost motor home was found abandoned in Polk County and the couple were spotted in a 2000 Lexus sports utility vehicle about 45 miles north of the Arizona border.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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