New details are emerging in a case of alleged child abuse involving a Middlefield couple.
Earlier this month, 49-year-old Peter Gable and his wife, 48-year-old Tamera Gable, of 41 Louis Road, were arrested and charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor — a felony — and three counts of third-degree assault.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, abuse allegations against the couple involving their seven adopted children date back nearly 20 years. The couple also has two biological children, the report says.
Authorities began investigating the couple in April after the Department of Children and Families received a complaint that four of the pair's children still living at home — three of whom are adopted — endured physical abuse, physical neglect and emotional abuse inside the couple's home.
The abuse was first reported by one of the alleged victims during a visit to New Life Church in Meriden. The couple was away on vacation in Barbados at the time and the church's pastor called DCF to report the abuse, according to the affidavit.
During interviews with the alleged victims, police learned that only the couple's adopted children had been abused, according to the arrest warrant. The pair used a leather belt, spoons and a hairbrush to beat the children, the report states.
On at least one occasion, the victims had attempted to run away from home but Peter Gable had "screwed the windows shut," the affidavit says.
When the couple was initially confronted with the allegations of abuse they told investigators they would never harm their children, the report says. But under questioning by police, according to the affidavit, the couple admitted to "disciplining" their children by using a punishment known in the home as "writings."
"[The parents] require the children to write religious remarks or phrases a minimum of five hundred times," the affidavit says. In one example recovered by investigators, the same line had been written repeatedly 2,386 times.
The children were forced to write on a "near daily basis," according to the report, for punishment ranging from "perceived lying, disobedience" to "taking food from the kitchen without permission."
In some cases, the affidavit states, the children were forced to stand on a five-gallon bucket and continue writing using a clipboard.
According to investigators, the door knobs to the children's bedrooms had been installed backwards in order to allow the couple to lock the room from the outside of the door. During an interview with police, Peter Gable admitted to turning at least one door knob back around before officers arrived to interview him.
In another incident detailed in the affidavit, one of the victims recalled being "whipped" with a belt 40 times. A day after the incident, the report says, the victim went to the school nurse to get a band-aid and when she returned home she was hit with a spoon and thrown onto a wood pile, "hurting her ribs and chest."
Another victim told investigators that she'd been slammed into walls and pushed down the stairs of the house by her mother on more than one occasion. "[The victim] added that her mother digs her nails into her forearms to inflict pain and punishment," the affidavit says.
During the investigation, police say Peter Gable admitted to putting "ill-tasting" additives into his children's meals as punishment for bad behavior. The additives included garlic spices and red hot sauce, the report says.
When confronted with the statements made by the children, the couple admitted to using all of the forms of discipline alleged by the victims.
Tamera Gable told police her adopted children "came with a lot of baggage," according to the affidavit.
On two previous occasions, according to the affidavit, the couple had been investigated by DCF including an incident in 1994 in which charges were never filed.
Following an alleged incident in 2004, "when [one of the couple's children] told a school nurse at Memorial School in Middlefield that he had been injured by his parents who also locked him in the basement," the couple denied the abuse.
In the affidavit, the couple admitted to telling their children not to tell DCF workers how they were disciplined at home. The 2004 case was expunged in 2009 because no further complaints had been received, the affidavit states.
The couple's biological children have not filed formal complaints of abuse, the report says.
According to the affidavit, one of the couple's adopted children now serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan admitted to being abused by the couple and told investigators he would be willing to help his younger siblings. However, investigators said he still appeared "afraid of his parents and was unwilling to go against their wishes."
Another sibling who now attends college in Virginia was "terrified" of his parents and did not tell anyone of the abuse he endured, the report says.
In the affidavit, Tamara Gable describes being "overwhelmed" by the needs of the adopted children. But, according to report, she contacted the DCF office as recently as six months prior to the investigation to activate her foster care license in order to start taking placement again.
Peter and Tamara Gable both posted $75,000 bonds following their arrests and a full no-contact protective order is in place between the parents and the children.
The couple is due back in court on Oct. 23.