YUKON — The natural son of a Canadian County couple facing child abuse charges said he was never abused by his parents, nor saw them abuse their three adopted children.
Wisconsin native Bill Kluth, 35, said Monday he and his two siblings have been estranged from their parents for about seven years, after disagreeing on the way their parents were secluding the two adopted boys from the rest of the family.
“We were literally not allowed to speak with them,” Kluth said. “We told them ‘you don't treat kids that way' and we haven't spoken since.”
Authorities allege the Kluths beat, choked, whipped and burned the children, and made them eat pet food. They claim the Kluths confined the boys in an unlit cellar for months at a time, and locked the oldest in a dog cage. The children did not attend school.
The couple are free on bail, and the children are in the custody of child welfare services.
Calls to the Kluth's attorney, Bill James, of Yukon, were not returned.
Bill Kluth said he and his siblings stopped speaking with their parents shortly after they adopted the second boy, and weren't aware they adopted a daughter until notified about the couple's criminal charges.
He said the children were not given usual freedom.
“Whenever one of us would point that out, they'd say they had to follow a regimen in a book they were given,” he said.
Kluth said the book was supposedly from child welfare services, but he never saw it.
The boys were made to play quietly in a corner during family holidays, and often the oldest was sent to another room to write repetitive sentences as a form of punishment, he said.
Kluth said the childhood that's been described for his adoptive siblings is nothing like the one he experienced with his parents.
They lived a middle-class life. John Kluth was a postal worker and Sonja Kluth worked as a hotel manager, he said.
“Honestly, we never went through any kind of abuse,” Kluth said. “Everything was pretty normal. We never really had rules. We got allowances, played outside with our dirt bikes and never got stuck in a dog crate.”
In an affidavit filed with the charges, Sonja Kluth told investigators she had “totally lost all control” when trying to deal with the children and had “become a monster.”
Kluth said if his mother did lose control, she should have stopped and gotten help.
“If they did do what's being alleged, then they should be punished for it,” Kluth said.