Two Wasilla women charged with sexually abusing children for more than a decade

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- Two Wasilla women remained jailed Wednesday on charges they sexually abused two children in their home during a 10-year period ending in 2003.

A now-adult victim described the situation as an extended family of adopted children living a "cult-like" existence in a sheltered Wasilla home.

Alaska State Troopers said they arrested 71-year-old Shawn M. O'Shea-Grantham and Mailea (Joan) L. O'Shea-Grantham, 40, on Friday on multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor based on a grand jury indictment.

Charging documents say the women, separately and together, sexually abused the two children between 1993 and 2003. The abuse started when the children were 7 and 2.

Both women pleaded not guilty in Palmer Superior Court on Tuesday.

Sky Johnson, a 27-year-old Anchorage resident, said she's one of the victims.

Johnson said Wednesday she tried for years to get authorities to investigate claims of abuse in the home where Shawn O'Shea-Grantham was raising her and two other adopted children.

Johnson said the home was filthy and O'Shea-Grantham ran the family with threats and intimidation. She said the older woman beat her if she didn't clean the house and deprived her brother of food. She also encouraged her to have sex with men she selected, calling surrogate parenting "the clan way" to make a family, Johnson said.

The children were kept isolated, even from neighborhood kids, she said.

"We were not allowed to attend public school. We were not allowed to go to church consistently. Every single interaction with the community was extremely well-rehearsed," Johnson said. "We were told not to disclose any of the secrets that occurred at home."

Johnson and a male sibling testified before the grand jury. They are identified only by initials in court documents.

Johnson said Shawn O'Shea-Grantham adopted her and two siblings from her own biological daughter and raised the much older Mailea O'Shea-Grantham as her daughter as well.

Johnson said she first told someone about the abuse in 2008 when she disclosed it to the man who became her husband. Then she began collecting evidence and making digital recordings of the people involved, she said.

The state investigation that led to the current charges began in February, troopers said. That's when Johnson reported her concerns that O'Shea-Grantham was abusing an 8-year-old girl living in the Wasilla home -- Johnson's daughter, born in 2004 when she was about 18.

O'Shea-Grantham adopted the girl in 2007.

The girl was removed from the home and placed in foster care, according to documents included in a custody case Johnson filed in March.

Johnson's custody filing includes a claim that Shawn O'Shea-Grantham was sexually abusing the child.

O'Shea-Grantham, in her April response, denied the allegation and demanded proof, saying that "after its investigation the Office of Children's Services dismissed the allegation as unfounded."

Johnson said she reported the abuse to OCS in 2009. A case worker interviewed her, she said, but never followed up. OCS spokeswoman Susan Morgan said the agency doesn't comment on specific cases due to confidentiality concerns.

The next year, in 2010, Johnson said she asked a state judge to open a child protection case and was told to contact the troopers.

She waited to take her case to authorities until she had enough recordings and other evidence to prove her allegations, Johnson said.

"It seemed like no one would listen and no one would believe me, except the troopers and the district attorney handling the case," she said. "I'm forever grateful."

Shawn and Malea O'Shea-Grantham on Wednesday afternoon remained jailed at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center on $50,000 and $10,000 bail, respectively.