SPERRY — Investigators used the word “torture” to describe the treatment a Sperry couple meted out to their four adopted children in a child-abuse case that has been filed in Osage County.
Lora Lee Thomas, 47, and Aubrey Stuart Thomas, 58, were charged earlier this month after Osage County sheriff’s investigator Justin Kling uncovered stories of abuse ranging from the children’s being forced to throw up and then eat their own vomit, to being beaten with a large paddle called “Mr. Awesome” and then made to soak in a tub loaded with ice cubes to reduce swelling from the assaults, to being forced to participate in sexual acts, according to an affidavit filed in Osage County District Court.
Lora Thomas, whose first name is spelled Laura in some records, is charged with child abuse and is being held in the Osage County Jail with bail set at $50,000. Aubrey Thomas is charged with enabling child abuse and was released from jail after posting $50,000 bond. The charges are both felonies.
The couple became foster parents in 2001, taking in six children when they lived in Rogers County. In 2003, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services removed two of the six children from their home in Claremore after finding evidence that they had been abused, Osage County Undersheriff Lou Ann Brown said Tuesday.
The couple kept the other four children — two girls and two boys, all now from age 13 to 15 — and moved to Osage County west of Sperry in 2006.
DHS spokesman Mark Beutler said Tuesday that the agency is cooperating with the sheriff’s investigation and is ensuring the children’s safety, but he said he could not comment on specifics of the case.
The Sheriff’s Office is still trying to unravel how and when the children were adopted and the backgrounds of the Thomases.
In October, DHS asked the Osage County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations of mistreatment in the Thomas household after one of the girls, who had been put into a psychiatric facility, made the allegations to a counselor, Brown said.
The 13-year-old girl told him she was severely beaten with a wooden paddle on her feet and buttocks and would be forced to eat chewing gum from Aubrey Thomas’s penis and to perform oral sex on her adoptive brothers, according to the affidavit.
Initially, the children, all of them appearing malnourished, refused to talk to Kling, leading him to conclude that they were the victims of “extreme coaching and coercion,” the affidavit states.
Kling was able to track down a biological daughter of the Thomases who had moved away from them in 2008. She echoed the stories of beatings and of the children’s being forced to eat bar soap and dishwashing detergent, adding that if the girls urinated in their beds or clothes, they would be forced to put their soiled underwear in their mouths “so that other siblings could make fun of them,” according to the affidavit.
The document states that she also alleged that her parents had awakened the 14-year-old girl in the middle of the night then slapped her until blood flowed from her lips and nose as her mother screamed, “You’re never going to learn, are you?”