Home / News / Fifteen-year-old homeschooled girl forced to live in chicken coop and wear a shock collar; parents say they did what the Bible says
Fifteen-year-old homeschooled girl forced to live in chicken coop and wear a shock collar; parents say they did what the Bible says

Fifteen-year-old homeschooled girl forced to live in chicken coop and wear a shock collar; parents say they did what the Bible says

Authorities in Butler, Georgia, found an adopted fifteen-year-old girl allegedly abused by her homeschooling parents and forced to live in chicken coop (video) as well as an outhouse for several days, while wearing a shock collar.  Her parents claim they were doing what the Bible says and fed the girl nothing but bread and water for days.

At first, authorities did not find the shock collar, but they did find a receipt for it.  After the police arrested her parents, Debra and Samuel Franklin, investigators found the collar allegedly used on the girl.  Authorities are checking it for DNA.

According to the girl, who was adopted in 2009, her parents used the collar several times on her while they forced her to live in the chicken coop.  She told authorities that her abuse began as fast as they adopted her and that her parents used a remote control, similar to the ones used for dogs.

The parents made bond and face a juvenile court custody hearing in connection to the alleged abuse.

Diana Franklin is facing 12 counts of cruelty to children and 4 counts of false imprisonment. Samuel Franklin has been charged with 8 counts of cruelty to children and 8 counts of false imprisonment.

Neighbors observed the girl working in the yard in extreme heat, while the rest of the family watched.

"I've seen her out working in the gardens, digging ditches in the hot sun with two or three older boys watching her. I've seen her toting rocks up the road – she looked like she was in rough shape, "said Steven Balis.

David Spellers also saw the girl working in the hot sun as the rest of her family watched.

"I saw her when she was out in the yard working in that garden out there and I saw her around picking up trash in the yard," Spillers said.

Another neighbor who did not want to go on camera told us that Diana Franklin would often punish her daughter for not doing chores and working the "right way."

The neighbor said that Diana Franklin would only feed her daughter bread and water as punishment for days on end. The neighbor says that Diana Franklin told her that she was "doing what the Bible says."

"Mrs. Franklin hasn't denied none of it and I know it there is no doubt in my mind that she was mistreating that girl," Spillers said.

The juvenile court custody hearing took place on Thursday morning.

“I’ve never seen anything like this personally,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Wayne Smith explained. “If the allegations prove to be true, it’s a very severe case.”

The chicken coop, which also served as an outhouse, was four feet in length and width, and did not stand very high, Smith said.

"It was just big enough to sit in," Smith said.

Smith stated that after they removed the girl from the house, she began to open up to investigators, telling her story of what her parents did to her.

"Kind of what has happened is within a few hours of being taken out of that environment, a lot of this began to flow very freely," Smith said. "You almost have to remove the person from the threat of punishment before they begin to open up to you. That's normal, and that's what has happened here."

According to Smith, authorities did not answer questions about Thursday’s court hearing.

The girl lived with another sibling and two other children lived away from the home.  The other three children are not involved in the child abuse case.

Chicken coops and outhouses are full of ammonia, which is potentially dangerous to humans and animals.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • Deborah_B

    How is it that these people make it through the screening process for adoptions? Was it last year that a family in California spanked one of their adopted girls to death, following Michael and Debby Pearl's Christian teachings?

    This is terrible. That young lady is probably going to need some counseling for quite some time.

    • I agree it is horrible and she probably will need counseling for a long time. I don't know how they make it through the screening process or even keep their natural children. The way it sounds, it seems like they only adopted her to have a slave.

  • Homeschooling Hub

    This situation is terrible and I wish "parents" could be locked up in a chicken coop for their sentence, but the rest of us are civilized. That being said I think the title should be "adopted 15 year old girl" not "homeschooled". I doubt this poor girl was taught anything but how cruel humans can be. The adoption system is to blame here not the fact that she was "homeschooled". Thank God for the conscientious neighbors that reported her abuse (probably several times before anything was done).


    • I don't believe the girl was educated at all during those 5 years, not even 2 + 2, but you're right, some parents who homeschool do an excellent job of actually educating their children, others give a pseudo education to their children, and still others, who are a very small percentage (maybe 1% of those listed as homeschooled), use it as an excuse to be abusive. Both Secularists and the religious find reason to homeschool their children also and it's only that small percentage, who abuse it, that make the news. We can say the same of priests too.

  • Peter

    In Dobson's Dare to Discipline he recommended
    parents use wooden paddles or switches, starting when they're toddlers. But
    Dobson is a pussycat compared to Michael and Debi Pearl who are also
    homeschooling gurus. In their book To Train Up a Child (1994) they
    advocate beating babies with willow tree branches or a ruler to make them stop
    crying. They even decreed the size of these weapons as the children aged. For
    instance, the Pearls suggested using longer and sturdier pieces of plastic
    plumbing pipe as weapons depending on their age. Dobson and the Pearl's gave
    new meaning to the biblical "spare the rod and spoil the child." How
    do we define child abuse?

    • Please note that they are homeschooling gurus only to the CHRISTIAN Homeschoolers. Many homescoolers (even some of the Christian ones) detest the Pearl's.

  • Tria MacLeod

    I think two of the biggest problems are
    1] Children are still basically thought of as property by the law
    2] Too many children that are homeschooled are at risk for this sort of treatment when they are not allowed to be exposed to the public at large and socialized.
    I'm not saying homeschooling in and of itself is a bad thing, but bad people tend to use it to there advantage. There needs to be more oversight by either educational authorities or by social services to prevent things like this.

    My other concern is if so many people saw what was happening to this girl, why did it take so long to stop the abuse? Why are people so afraid to get involved?

    • This is NOT a homeschooling issue. The large majority of homeschoolers belong to homeschool groups, their children are enrolled in recreational sports, boy/girl scouts and they are out in the community. They do not live in isolation and they deserve the same respect and treatment as public school parents. I find it appalling that you wish to discriminate against homeschool parents because of an educational choice.

      Also this girl was ADOPTED, whoever placed her in this home obviously did not do their job properly. Stop blaming homeschoolers and take a look at whatever government agency allowed her to be placed in this home in the first place.

      The neighbors also appeared to be aware of her treatment.

    • The sad fact of the matter is, some people are afraid to report abuse and some don't want to get involved. The longer people wait to report abuse, the worse it gets and the longer the child has to endure abuse.

      Secondly, it is my understanding that parents who choose to homeschool their children, register as doing so and supposedly there are checks, to see if the parents are actually educating their children. Parents are allowed to use religious or secular materials and activities to educate their child, but it supposedly has to meet certain standards, including P.E. requirements, and occasionally there is a test to see if the children are learning what the State requires. So right there is a problem with this situation. Who was checking up on these parents to make sure they were giving the child a reasonable education?

      If what I understand is true, I can see why the homeschooling parents are upset about this article, because one issue is the child's education, which wasn't an education. No one sat down and worked with her on the 3R's, history, science, or anything else. Secondly, digging and lifting heavy objects is not part of the Phys. Ed. requirement, with maybe the except of bucking hay. Learning animal husbandry and farming skills, age appropriate to the child, might be considered part of the curriculum, but this was not that. Thirdly, religion can be part of an education without necessarily being abusive and often is part of a student's education in public and religious schools. In public schools it is suppose to be taught in a secular manner, without indoctrination. Fourth, because she was adopted, there needed to be follow up and apparently there was none. Thus, you can't blame just the parents or the neighbours.

      I agree some homeschooled children are at risk for isolation and abuse, but so are some children in public schools too. Some parents have been known to send their kid to school and make them come straight home again, not allowing them to socialize after school and even allowing them very little social contact in the summer. Other parents who see this abuse, get skiddish and might not allow their child to visit the child who they fear is being abused, causing the abused child further isolation. Then there is the child who is afraid to invite anyone over on top of all of this, which further isolates the child. Thus, abuse and isolation can happen whether the child is homeschooled or educated in the public school system. The issue is not homeschooling or public education, religious or secular education, but rather the adult humans involved in the child's life.

      Neither the community or the State was doing their part concerning this child. It seems to me a classic story of a child screaming for help, not necessarily with words, but nobody listened for a very long time. It took 5 years before someone woke up and said, "What? OK, I hear you. I'll get you help."

    • Owensmomma

      "Exposure to the public" means nothing. My three sisters and I all attended public school. My dad beat us with a belt regularly until we left home; no school official or neighbor ever got involved, even though we had bruises. This has nothing to do with homeschooling and everything to do with people who shouldn't be allowed to adopt getting hold of a child.

  • Becca


    I knew of a child who was being abused far worse than even this 15-year-old. Countless neighbors called the police and child protective services. It took 5 years before the child was removed and by that time, the child had already become so disturbed in many ways. Maybe these neighbors told the authorities, but the authorities didn't do a damn thing about it for whatever reason. It isn't as clear cut as you think.

    • Deborah_B

      I have seen something similar, Becca, and called in on a rural neighbor who had their female children living in a tent and going to the bathroom outside, for all to see. The only way we were able to get some help for those kids was to call about a horse that they owned and were not feeding or grooming. The horse was near death and the county was out within minutes. The ag dept then contacted CPS, which deemed that the kids were not being neglected and thus okay.

      The kids would come over to my place for food and warm clothes and baths/bathroom access until the mother banned her from doing so. Once the county got involved — at least superficially — more people came forward with food and aid.

  • I am a homeschool mom and a mom through adoption. I find it hard to believe that anyone sees this as a homeschool issue and not an adoption issue. This girls adoption was finalized 3 years ago. Three years ago, these parents had an extensive home study and were found to be psychologically fit to parent a 12-year-old, presumably a child that became available for adoption through the foster care system. I suspect that this child had some behavior (maybe severe) issues related to attachment injuries and institutionalization. Why wasn't this family receiving post placement visits and support? This family should have had the eye of the state upon them even if they were not being schooled in a government run school. Instead, the state places children in families and leaves them unsupported.

  • The Truth

    The problem is the religion…throughout history people have abused children in the name of religion over and over again. But their fellow believers give them a break simply because they attend the same church and could not be all that bad. Look at how Jerry Sandusky used his religious charities to molest children! than his superiors covered it up.
    Until we start charging all the members as associates in the crime who participate and donate, (fund) in any one religion or church…than this will never stop.

    If you donate to a church and children are abused or molested there, you WILL be charged. Guilt by association…maybe than the followers will do a better job of screening their fellow believers.

    • I partly agree with you, but not entirely. The part I take issue with is the enabling of abuse and molestation. While some intentionally enable molestation and abuse, others, such as women, are also trapped in the same system as the children. I will use a personal example, since I know or comprehend no other situations- my mother for years stayed married to our abuser, who also molested me, because the elders of our church, who happened to be our male relatives, used religion to keep us trapped in the abuse for years. It was not until I found the right people to help us, did we get out of that situation. However, what I did not know until the last few years, is that my mother tried to tell the elders/male relatives of our church, was that she struggled to tell them the full story of the situation, due to shame and fear, as well as dependence on those male relatives if they did help us. It was the religion that kept her dependent on men and the religion that kept us in that situation for years. It was not until I found the right people to help us, that she was able to tell the full story. At which point the male relatives did help us get out of the situation by paying for the attorney, but would not allow me to prosecute my father, saying "God will take care of him." My mother said she did not know that that form of abuse was happening to me either, but at the time, she said she did not have the emotional ability to fight back against it even if she did know.

      She was just as suppressed and oppressed by the same system as I was. Thus, in some respects, I have sympathy and empathy for her, because she did not intentionally enable the abuse. She was just as trapped as I was due to the religion and I do not think she should be prosecuted along with the men who oppressed her or even along with my father. I have never thought she needed to be prosecuted with my father, because she never once inflicted the abuse on me, at least not directly, but in the last few years, I've developed a greater understanding of why she did the things she did, which ended up enabling it. If not for the religious oppression and suppression of women in the sect I grew up in, she might have had a stronger backbone, with less fear, shame, and guilt about leaving her husband. All too often she lead to believe the problems in her marriage were her fault and that she was the sinner, when in reality, she was not and once the male leaders/relatives of our church knew the exact details, they did try to help get us out of there, but not without religious superstition.

      Sadly, my mother never remarried after that, due to ideas concerning adultery and all, but the fact is, religion takes its toll on women and children, due to the male dominance and superstition. So I don't think you can entirely prosecute everyone involved, because sometimes the abuse is also inflected on the women to a greater or lesser degree too.

  • Jori

    Homeschooling involves education. This was just torture, plain and simple. If she was having behavioral problems (having issue transitioning to the new house) they could have went and got help for her. Change can be overwhelming but this there is no excuse.

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