Children’s book author accused of abusing adopted children remains in custody as publisher cuts ties

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Seminole County children’s book author who is accused, along with her husband, of abusing their three adopted children remains in custody Wednesday after being arrested for a second time.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson said what happened inside Joseph and Jennifer Wolfthal’s Casselberry home may be the worst case of child abuse she has seen in Seminole County.

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Jennifer was first arrested on child abuse charges on New Year’s Day before being arrested again on Tuesday afternoon on additional charges. Her husband, Joseph Wolfthal, was released on bond on charges of aggravated child abuse, child neglect with great bodily harm and false imprisonment charges on Tuesday.

The company that published Jennifer’s children’s book, “A Real Friend,” released a statement following her arrest saying they will cease further commercialization of the book. You can read the company’s full statement below:

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“At Clavis, we believe that children are beautiful and deserve our utmost respect and care. That is why we publish books to enrich their lives and help them grow up learning to know themselves, how to interact with others in a good way and how the world works. We were made aware of horrific news regarding one-time, Clavis’ author Jennifer Wolfthal’s arrest and strongly condemn child abuse, abandonment and neglect, today and always. We will do what’s within our power to cease commercialization of her book further.”

Cherlette McCullough, owner of Centerpiece Couples and Family Therapy, said these children fell through the cracks. They were adopted privately by this couple, a process where there is little oversight from the state, and in addition to that they were homeschooled, so there were few eyes on them.

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McCullough, who once worked for DCF as an adoption and foster care placement director, said in her experience there must be underlying issues for parents to treat their children this way.

“You can’t help but say there has to be some type of mental illness, there has to be some type of substance abuse going on, some other resolve, some anger in someone who would do something like this,” she said.

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McCullough said children typically are traumatized when they are adopted, as they face challenges with self-esteem and identity.

“And then to experience this in a home that is supposed to be their forever home with people saying they are going to provide safety and comfort and things like that for them and that doesn’t happen, these children are gonna need a vast amount of therapy to work through this trauma,” McCullough said.

Two of the children are in foster care, the third still hospitalized.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.