Police seeking group-care customers after patients' escape, sexual abuse allegations

Probe spawned by three women's escape to Fort Benning

tchitwood@ledger-enqurier.comNovember 15, 2013 

Three patients’ escape last summer from an unlicensed Columbus group-care home led to allegations of sexual abuse, leaving its operators in jail and Columbus police looking for others who may have used the service, a detective says.

Jailed without bond on charges of aggravated child molestation and two counts each of false imprisonment and sexual assault on a person in custody are Marcus and Kashanda Miles, who were operating the service out of a house at 5627 Monmouth Drive, in the Yorktown neighborhood off St. Mary’s Road at the Fort Benning border, said sex crimes Sgt. Mark Richards.

Richards said the 31-year-old husband and his 35-year-old wife had no business license to run their daycare for the mentally challenged.

Authorities discovered the operation when three women ages 32, 34 and 67 escaped July 20, crossed onto Fort Benning and tried to hide in the woods near Kelly Hill, where military police tracked them down about 7:30 p.m., the detective said. “They were all eventually taken to The Medical Center, and at The Medical Center they disclosed that they were sexually abused at this residence,” Richards said.

Later police learned a 15-year-old girl who had been in the group home told the Federal Bureau of Investigation she had been sexually assaulted there, the detective said.

On Oct. 25, investigators charged Marcus Miles with operating without a license, Richards said. About 9:30 a.m. Nov. 7, police and FBI agents serving search warrants raided the house and arrested the couple, he said.

Police still are compiling information on how the business worked, he said.

So far they know Marcus and Kashanda Miles were operating their group home much like a licensed facility runs: “They were administering medications, food, caring for people, taking them to appointments,” Richards said. “They were receiving money for these patients from the consumers, but we don’t where the money was actually coming from, at this time.”

Officers also are unsure how many clients the couple had, he said.

“What we know right now is that at the time he was charged with operating a business without a license, he had anywhere between maybe three to four people…. We suspect there may have been additional people that they may have come into contact with,” the detective said.

Now police want to talk to those people, who may call the police department’s investigative bureau at 706-653-3400. Detectives believe their probe could broaden extensively if more of the facility’s former clients come forward, Richards said.

“We’re still working it, but it’s ballooning beyond what we thought it was going to be,” he said. “It’s going to be a big case…. It’s getting bigger and bigger every day.”

Besides questioning former clients about their experiences, police want to try to get them any services they may need through a victim-witness program that assists crime victims and their families, he said.

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