Last Friday, as soon as their mother climbed in the shower, five Sharp children bolted down the driveway of their Auburn, Kan., home.
Before they left, according to testimony in a Wednesday hearing, they took the guns out of a cubbyhole in the house and stashed them at the end of the drive. Then they got a ride from a neighbor to the Shawnee County sheriff’s office in Topeka.
And on Wednesday — three months after making headlines when they performed for armed occupiers who had taken over a wildlife refuge in Oregon — the children were taken into state custody because of abuse allegations.
At the end of a 2 1/2 -hour hearing in Shawnee County District Court that included testimony about alleged beatings that brought the children’s father to tears, a judge found probable cause that allegations of physical and emotional abuse were true. He placed seven of the children into the temporary custody of the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
“Any time I’m going to hear testimony that a child has been beaten to the point we have abrasions, broken skin and bleeding … that’s disturbing,” said Judge Steven Ebberts.
As she left the hearing, Odalis Sharp told The Star that she didn’t abuse her children.
“We need to turn to God, because the system is corrupt,” she said. “They lie, they twist, they make false charges, they abuse people, and then they turn around and put people in prison, and then they accuse them of abuse.”
Shawnee County sheriff’s deputies arrested Sharp at her home Friday in connection with battery of a law enforcement officer and interference with law enforcement. The incident remains under investigation. Sharp was released on $3,000 bond, and no charges have been filed.
In January, the Sharp Family Singers traveled to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, where they performed gospel and patriotic music for the militants who had taken control of the property.
Odalis Sharp’s oldest daughter, Victoria, who had recently moved to Montana, joined them on Jan. 25. The next day, Victoria Sharp was riding with rancher LaVoy Finicum and three other occupiers, including one of the standoff leaders, Ryan Bundy, when Finicum ran a roadblock and was shot and killed by Oregon state police.
At Wednesday’s hearing, a children’s department social worker said the office had received three reports this year about the children’s welfare. The first, she said, was in February, alleging a lack of supervision. She said they went to the home, but Odalis Sharp told them to leave. They scheduled a meeting, but she did not show up and later called to say she wasn’t in Kansas.
A second report was made April 12 alleging emotional and physical abuse. The worker said she called the sheriff’s office and asked them to try to assess whether the children were safe. But again, Sharp would not let them see the children, the worker said. The third report to the agency was Friday, the worker testified, when some of the children ran from the home.
The worker said the five children were interviewed and said their mother spanked them with a rod that left them with bruises and marks, struck them with a belt, slapped them on their faces and private areas, used soap in their mouths and called them names.
Some of the children reported that their mother swatted them at least three to four times a week and that each time, the swats were eight to 15 in number, the worker said.
“They said it’s typical to always receive some type of bruising and other times have bled from the swats,” the worker testified.
“The children told me they were fearful,” she said. “They did not want to return to their mother.”
Sharp said during the hearing that “a lot of my friends know that I use a rod.”
“That is not a secret,” she said.
She asked the social worker if they had checked any of the children for bruises. The worker replied that the children said they hadn’t been spanked for about three weeks because one of the older siblings had been home and taken away the rod.
Tim Sharp, the children’s father, attended the hearing and asked that the children be placed in his custody. The couple divorced in 2012, and he now lives near Denver in a two-bedroom apartment.
But the children’s department workers said the state needed more time to determine whether he would be an appropriate caregiver.
Three older children live elsewhere, and a 17-year-old had recently gone to live with her father.
Sheriff’s Detective Kevin Kasl testified that he interviewed one of Odalis Sharp’s sons.
“He stated that in the morning while his mother was in the shower, he took two guns from the house and put them at the end of the drive,” he said. “They all started running down the end of the driveway and were picked up by a neighbor.”
Sheriff’s Detective Dustin Carlat said one of the sons told him about witnessing another sibling’s punishment.
“He described a spanking that consisted of 47 swats,” he said. “He described that after 27 spankings, the child started to bleed from the nose, and 20 more spanks occurred after that.”
Upon hearing that, Tim Sharp began to sob.
“The federal government hates us right now, because my daughter is a primary witness of a murder they committed,” Odalis Sharp said after the hearing. “And so what do they do? They want the Sharp family out. And so they divide and conquer.”