I am heartsick at this outcome. Warning: mention of horrific child abuse.
According to the Cleveland.com website, Margaret Cole, the executive director of European Adoption Consultants, a now-defunct Ohio adoption agency, was sentenced today to three months in prison and a $7500 fine. She will then serve one year on house arrest.
Cole pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud U.S. and Polish adoption authorities and for lying to Polish authorities.
That sounds almost innocuous, doesn’t it? Here’s what happened: Two Polish sisters were placed by Cole’s adoption agency with a family that wanted only one. Cole and her associate Debra Parris then placed one of the sisters with a relative of Parris, without any vetting or oversight. and without informing either Polish or U.S. authorities. The adoptive father had a domestic violence conviction. He later raped the five-year-old child so badly she needed surgery. He was sentenced to 48 years in jail.
I don’t know how the child is doing, who truly deserves enormous compensation from Cole. The money would not make up for the horrific crime committed against the child, but a three month sentence seems unconscionable.
An FBI investigation also found that Parris and another of Cole’s staffers, Robin Longoria, were guilty of bribing judges in Uganda to place children for adoption who were not orphans nor abandoned. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Cole for the Ugandan fraud, apparently because Cole pled guilty to the Polish adoption charges. Longoria was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Parris will be sentenced July 7.
Cole pled guilty last February. In sentencing Cole today, the judge said he factored in her age (74) and health issues. The Cleveland.com article said that at least one adoptive father who used Cole’s agency to adopt a son from Russia said Cole “made over 8,000 lives better,” referring to the number of children placed by European Adoption Consultants. Cole herself said “I’m really sorry for what happened but I worked for 24 years to help 8,000 families. The children were the joy of my life.”
A three month sentence and a $7500 fine seems inconsequential and wildly inadequate punishment for the lies and fraud that resulted in a little girl being “brutally raped,” as the Cleveland.com reported.
Postscript: While their website is gone, the LinkedIn description for European Adoption Consultants still says this: “EAC is a Hague accredited, well-respected and ethical agency that has assisted in the placement of more than 8,000 children since 1991. We are one of the top international adoption agencies, offering child adoption services and adoption information for international adoptions through Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Poland, Uganda and Ukraine.” Hague accreditation is the highest standard available for international adoption agencies.