Foster dad of alleged sex club victims arrested

June 21, 2008 6:34:26 AM PDT
A foster parent awarded custody of three young siblings allegedly forced into sex at swinger parties has been accused of sexually abusing a child in California in the 1990s. John Orville Cantrell, 64, has been charged with sexual penetration of a person under 14 and lewd act upon a child, Marsha Johnson of the Solano County District Attorney's Office in California said Friday.

The complaint against Cantrell was filed May 9 and stems from an alleged assault that occurred in 1991, she said. Cantrell was taken into custody Wednesday by Wood County authorities, and Johnson said she was waiting for extradition papers to be signed.

Texas Child Protective Services spokeswoman Shari Pulliam said Friday the agency is aware of the allegations, and that "it would be common for CPS to investigate this new development."

Cantrell's wife, Margie, told the Tyler Morning-Telegraph the accusations are in retaliation for their roles in helping build the case against Mineola Swinger's Club, where children as young as 5 were allegedly taught to perform sex acts for an audience.

Margie Cantrell testified in a May trial that when she received custody of the three children, the two girls were oversexualized and the boy was angry. The children are now ages 12, 10 and 7.

"What John and I want to do is continue to seek justice for the kids in this case," Margie Cantrell said. "And if we have to climb a few mountains to get there, it will be worth it. And at the end of all this, John will absolutely be proven innocent."

Jury selection was set to begin Monday in the case against Patrick Kelly, the third alleged member of the swinger party to stand trial. His attorneys filed a motion Friday asking for a continuance to investigate the new allegations against Cantrell, who the motion says is a state witness.

Seven people have been charged for allegedly training children how to perform sex acts for an audience. The two defendants tried so far have both been convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Said John Cantrell about the three siblings after the first trial, "I'm going to love them like a father."

Margie Cantrell has testified that she has adopted 27 children over the years. Pittman said the Cantrells are not a state-licensed foster care and that no CPS children are in the home. The couple is licensed through the Bair Foundation, a religious-based foster care organization, Pittman said.

A court hearing in California for Cantrell has been scheduled for July 7, Johnson said.

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