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Judge rejects lesser bail conditions for Palmer woman accused of decade-long sex abuse

Jerzy Shedlock
From left, Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham, 40, and Shawn O'Shea-Grantham, 71, each charged with multiple counts of child sexual abuse, appear in court on April 4, 2014. Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News

A Palmer Superior Court judge on Thursday denied the request of a woman accused of sexually abusing at least two children over the course of a decade to have a third-party custodian requirement removed from her bail conditions, following emotional testimony from a family member who is one of the victims.

Judge Kari Kristiansen ruled against Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham’s request due in part to testimony from the state and two victims. Kristiansen said their comments showed that O'Shea-Grantham posed a risk to the community “without someone watching her.”

Wasilla residents Shawn and Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham were charged in November 2013 for an alleged decade-long pattern of sexual abuse against two children.

The accusations against the O’Shea-Granthams are unusual in that they involve women as the abusers and a mother-daughter duo as the accused. The arrests came five years after Sky Johnson, Shawn’s adoptive daughter, began opening up about what happened inside her former home, including prolonged abuse at the hands of a “cultlike” family, Johnson previously told Alaska Dispatch News.

The state charged the women with abusing the children starting in 1993 and continuing through 2003. Dispatch News does not publish the names of sexual abuse victims unless the victim consents.

State prosecutors have charged Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree. Shawn faces three first-degree and two second-degree sexual abuse charges. First-degree sexual assault indicates investigators believe sexual penetration took place. Second degree relates to sexual contact.

Johnson would have been 7 when the abuse started. The other child in the home, who is now also an adult, would have been 2.

With Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham watching from no more than 15 feet away, Johnson fought back tears as she told the judge that releasing O'Shea-Grantham would be a substantial safety risk.

“I was threatened not to come forward with these allegations -- that’s why it took so long,” she said, adding that O'Shea-Grantham had been a member of the community for more than 20 years, yet no one stepped up to be a third-party custodian.

“I feel I have the right to be safe,” Johnson said.

Assistant District Attorney Shawn Traini said there were no changes in the case that warranted easing O'Shea-Grantham’s bail conditions. He said she had several aliases.

O'Shea-Grantham, 40, is a daughter-like figure raised from infancy by Shawn O'Shea-Grantham but who was never formally adopted. Mailiea was formerly known as Caire Ann Bishop until legally changing her name in 2008.

Johnson also told the court that when growing up she repeatedly heard Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham say she’d kill to protect Shawn, or would kill for her if Shawn asked.

Traini also argued against defense attorney Jaffer Khimani’s contention that his client is not a flight risk. According to the state prosecutor, when police arrested the O'Shea-Granthams, their car was packed with belongings as if they were preparing to flee.

The other victim, who listened in on the hearing over the phone, simply said he agreed with the state about the risk of O'Shea-Grantham running away if released.

Johnson has said she was an isolated child in a family that ensured every public interaction was well rehearsed and intended to hide what was really going on. Part of the conditioning, she said, was the indoctrination into believing that the females in the family needed to get pregnant and give their babies to Shawn O'Shea-Grantham. The result was a family that under the law was composed of a mother and children but actually included four generations of family members: Shawn, and the "children" she raised as her own through legal adoption, but who were really her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, according to Johnson.

Shortly after their arrests, Shawn and Mailiea O'Shea-Grantham denied the sex abuse charge, pleading not guilty.

Mailiea raised her hand in court as the bail hearing neared its end, but her attorney advised her against speaking.