Police said they were tipped off to the abuse that Jeffrey York, 47, allegedly inflicted on his family after his wife went to police in December to tell them he had raped her daughter.
"We went down there. She met us pretty much at the door, her and the children," Madison Township Police Chief Len Del Calzo said. "And we removed them from the home."
After a months-long investigation, a grand jury returned a seven-page, 19-count indictment that resulted in his arrest last week. He is now being held on $250,000 bond. His wife and seven children, ages 19 to three months, were moved to a safe house.
In addition to two counts of rape that allegedly took place between September 1996 and October 1997 with a female child under the age of 13, York was also charged with five instances of gross sexual imposition, six counts of child endangerment, one count of aggravated menacing and five counts of domestic violence.
"They weren't like a traditional family, as far as most families go," Del Calzo said. "The children were home-schooled. They dressed in more of what I would call a 19th-century type of dress."
York has pleaded not guilty. His public defender could not be reached for comment.
Police described the children as cut off from the outside world with no friends or contact with others.
"They were pretty well isolated," he said. "Didn't associate with the neighbors and didn't have much contact outside the immediate family."
One of the counts of child endangerment stems from a report that one of his children was locked into an 8-by-10-foot room on and off for a year with limited access to food, water, bathroom facilities, clothing and the rest of the family.
The room, police said, had been modified into a small space so the rest could be used for storage.
Del Calzo said authorities had no intention of pursuing child abuse charges against York's wife. And at least one of the children is a stepdaughter, he said.
York Family Known to Police for Years After Animal Cruelty Cases
But both she and York had been known to police for some time. Both were arrested by Madison County Township police more than a decade ago on charges of animal cruelty.
Del Calzo was assigned to the first instance, in which the wife shot a family horse multiple times. Del Calzo second horse was found on the property severely malnourished.
"She had shot the horse," he said. "The horse was in pretty bad condition. It appeared to not have been properly fed for awhile.
"She had tried to put the animal out of its misery and we were called down there."
"Actually," he added," the horse was still alive when we got down there."
The charge against York, he said, stemmed from a separate incident in which a goat was allegedly starved and then fed to a family dog.
It's unclear how the cases were resolved.
A neighbor told Cleveland news station WJW-TV that York would frequently go out into the yard to shoot off guns.
Allan Smith said he wasn't surprised by the news that York had been arrested for the alleged abuse of his family.
"They were the kind of people you'd say to yourself, one day we're going to be sitting here talking to the news," Smith told WJW-TV. "You just feel that they were within arms reach and you couldn't help them. You didn't even know."