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Liberian sisters' custody remains in Major County court

Prosecutors in Major County aim to sever the parental rights of a Fairview couple who adopted five-Liberian-born sisters, and were convicted of abusing one of the girls
BY ANN KELLEY Modified: November 23, 2010 at 7:49 am •  Published: November 23, 2010

Prosecutors are seeking to end the parental rights of a Fairview couple who adopted five Liberian-born sisters and were convicted of abusing one of the girls.

At a closed hearing Monday in Major County District Court, Ardee and Penny Tyler asked for a jury to decide the child welfare case. The trial is scheduled for Jan. 24.

The couple were convicted in February of abusing the second-oldest girl, who now lives in Illinois with relatives. Their son, Ashton Tyler, 20, is in prison for sexually assaulting the girl, now 15. Her Liberian sisters have been in foster homes since April.

Local prosecutors and the state attorney general's office Monday requested the parental rights of the couple be terminated.

Defense attorney Ron Willis said the Tylers are passionate about their fight to regain custody of the girls.

“They're willing to do what it takes,” Willis said. “They love their children.”

The four girls, ages 5 to 16, are in two foster homes. The Tylers are no longer allowed to have supervised visits with their daughters because it was counterproductive to the children's counseling, sources close to the case told The Oklahoman.

Attorney Melvin Johnson has accused the Tylers of brainwashing the girls and turning them against their sister who made the abuse accusations. Johnson, of Atlanta and Liberian-born, volunteered last year to be the children's attorney.

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Girls came to U.S. in 2005

• 2005: Ardee and Penny Tyler adopt five sisters from a Liberian orphanage.

• October 2008: The Tylers are charged with felony child abuse after the second-oldest girl, then age 12, alleges she was tied up, deprived of food, made to sleep outside and sexually assaulted by their son. The couple's biological daughter, Nathania Tyler, is charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. Their son, Ashton Tyler, is charged with rape by instrumentation.

• February 2010: Ardee and Penny Tyler are convicted of child abuse and sentenced to 10-year deferred sentences. Penny Tyler is ordered to spend 60 days in the county jail. Nathania Tyler is convicted and receives a deferred sentence.

• March 2010 — Ashton Tyler, 19, is convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and eight years probation.

• March 2010 — Associate District Judge Vinson Barefoot rules the four other sisters should remain with their adoptive parents.

• April 2010 — State Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Major County District Attorney Hollis Thorp ask that Blackfoot's ruling be reviewed, reopening the deprived case for another judge to decide. The children are removed from Tylers' home and placed in foster care.


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