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‘Free Energy’ Inventor Says Married 8-Year-old Girl

March 14, 1989 GMT

LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) _ The state Welfare Department was given temporary custody Monday of an 8- year-old child taken from the home of a self-styled inventor who claimed he ″married″ the girl and her mother on orders from God.

Chancery Judge Glenn Barlow held there was probable cause the child had been neglected and abused by Joseph Newman of Lucedale.

The girl, taken from Newman’s home last week after he announced the ″marriage″ in a lengthy statement in which he described himself as a messenger from God, will remain in welfare department custody, pending a final hearing March 28.

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Newman claimed in a more than five-year legal battle with the U.S. Patent Office that he had built a machine that produced more energy than it consumed. In February 1988, a federal judge upheld the Patent Office’s refusal to grant a patent, saying there was insufficient scientific evidence to support Newman’s claim.

Barlow, serving as George County Youth Court judge, also ordered that the girl’s 3-year-old brother be taken from their mother and placed in the care of the welfare agency pending a hearing later in the week.

Newman threatened to file suit against all those responsible for removing the child.

″This is going to go a lot greater than right here,″ said Newman, 52, who claims to follow all major religions.

Newman’s statement said he had ″followed God’s orders″ by marrying his secretary, Anne Mizelle Harrell, 30, and her 8-year-old daughter. The child was removed from Newman’s home Friday by George County sheriff’s deputies.

Newman said a recent religious conversion led to his revelation that God wanted him to marry Ms. Harrell while he was still legally married to his wife of 14 years, Ellen Newman. Mrs. Newman moved to her parents’ home in Alabama after Newman declared he was marrying the child.

He said he has not had sexual intercourse with the child. ″I told her that if there is any sexual relations between me and that child, God will tell her when, and she should not feel pressured,″ he said.

Sexual relations with a child under 14 constitutes capital rape, which carries the penalty of death or life imprisonment in Mississippi.

An attorney for Mitchell Harrell, the children’s natural father, said after the hearing that Harrell would seek custody of the girl and boy.