ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) - Before the allegations that he molested a young girl more than900 times, Earl Kranz was a poster child in the fight to keepchildren and families together.
He brought his fight to the state House.
"My name is Earl Kranz and I'm facing termination of myparental rights along with my wife, Judy Kranz," he testified in March 2005 before theHouse Committee on Children and Family Services.
"We've been a victim of the Michigan Child ProtectiveServices and the courts."
They were there to debate whether the state is too quick totake children from their parents in cases of alleged abuse.
They got a warm welcome, according to a videotape of thehearing obtained by 24 Hour News 8.
"My heart goes out to you and I, too, applaud you for yourcourage," then-State Rep. Barb VanderVeen, R-Allegan, toldthe couple. "I want you to know as a member of this committee, Iwill very much be involved in the whole process of looking at howwe cannot allow this to happen to anyone else in the future."
Kranz faced allegations of sexual abuse in the 1990s in Ioniaand Indiana -- including in a van while headed to work as RonaldMcDonald, court records show.
But in those cases, he was cleared and kept his children.
It was in early 2004 that Kent County Judge Daniel Zemaitis took away the couple's fourchildren after allegations Kranz had sexually molested two othergirls -- in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At least some of thealleged incidents happened in Cutlerville, court records show.
One girl said he asked her to undress, though she refused.
"He said, 'Will you do me a favor?' " one of the girls told24 Hour News 8. "I said, 'What's the favor?' Then, he said, 'I justwant to see you naked, even if it's just across the room.' "
The other girl testified he had sexually assaulted her mostof her life, starting when she was in diapers, court records show.
Kranz told the House committee he was treated unfairly inKent County -- that the girls lied and were easily swayed, that astate worker perjured herself in court, and that the judge didn'tallow evidence in his favor.
"I ask, is this what America and the state of Michiganconsiders preserving families and the sanctity of marriage, as wellas insuring liberty and justice for all? I think not," Kranztestified.
"Are we all simply victims of judicial tyranny?"
Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Bramble, who handledthe case, defended the state and court during his testimony.
"Judge Zemaitis ruled -- he ruled -- as a finding of factthat Mr. Kranz was a sexual perpetrator," Bramble told committeemembers.
State house members on the committee sided with Kranz.
Former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo,pointed out what he called "gross injustices that have beenperpetrated upon your family and several others by the FamilyIndependence Agency."
"It is my belief that if we are going to err, we need to erron the side of the parents," Hoogendyk said.
It was former state Rep. Fulton Sheen, R-Plainwell, whorequested the hearing. He said he had sat in on some of thecouple's Kent County hearings.
"I saw a county agency representing the state and the courtsabuse some of these people's constitutional rights," said Sheen,who is now a member of the board of directors of Kranz's Seeds ofGrace homeless ministry in Allegan.
Sheen was not available for comment Monday.
One former alleged victim wondered why Sheen got involved.
"Fulton Sheen didn't even know Earl for that long to bestanding up for Earl like that," she told 24 Hour News 8.
In October 2005, several months after the hearing, JudgeZemaitis ordered the children returned to the Kranzes. Prosecutorssaid they objected, but that Children's Protective Servicessupported the ruling.
Now, Kranz is accused of sexually molesting a young girl 100sof times in Allegan County, including in the exam room at his Seedsof Grace ministry. He has denied the allegations.
If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
Fred Glespie was found not guilty in the death of three children who died in an apartment fire.
Police are looking for the suspect in an armed robbery that occurred at a gas station in Plainwell Thursday night.
The rink will be open that day from 3-9 p.m.