Saturday, February 07, 2015

Ten years for leaving toddlers in car

The Wash. Post reports:
A couple who left their two toddlers alone in a car on a Northwest Washington street while they attended a wine-tasting at an upscale restaurant was monitoring them with a cellphone left in the vehicle, law enforcement officials said Monday.

Police said the children — a 22-month-old boy and a slightly older girl — were strapped in car seats and wearing coats when they were found Saturday afternoon near the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in the 1100 block of 23rd Street NW. Neither child had gloves or a hat, police said, and the younger one did not have shoes or socks. The girl was “hysterically crying,” according to a police report.

The temperature was 35 degrees, and police said the doors were locked and the windows were rolled up. Police said the father and mother were at the restaurant Ris, about 400 feet around the corner, in the 2200 block of L Street. The father, Christopher Daniel Lucas, who also goes by Christophe, told police that he left an iPhone in the car with an open connection to the children’s mother, Jennie Teresa Chang. The restaurant’s manager told police that the couple was at a wine tasting for about an hour, according to a police report.

“I left to go inside the restaurant,” Lucas said, according to the report, “but I’m watching them.” Police said the phone line had been open 58 minutes when officers arrived and got the children out of the gray Volvo station wagon and into a warm police car.

Lucas, 41, and Chang, 46, who live in a $1 million rowhouse near Dupont Circle, about a 10-minute walk from the restaurant, were arrested and charged with two counts of attempted second-degree cruelty to children, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
This was also mentioned by the Free Range Mom.

The comments on this story are alarming. A lot of people believe that parents should always put their child's interests ahead of their own, and they deserve hard jail time if they went wine-tasting without hiring a babysitter.

Others had to admit that the kids would almost certainly be much worse off in foster care, but thought that the parents should be taught a lesson somehow.

Based on the reporting, it does appear that the parents used substandard judgment. But I don't agree with a lot of legal parental judgments. The legal question should be: Were the kids harmed? Were the kids in grave danger? Is there some objective violation of the law?

The cop said that a kid was “hysterically crying”. This sounds bad, but it is something that cops and other outsiders almost always get wrong. Kids cry all the time. Sometimes for pain or other severe distress, and sometimes just to get attention. The parents can tell the difference. The cops cannot.

It appears that the answer to these questions is a clear no. The kids were being watched and did not require any medical attention. Therefore this is none of anyone's business.

Here is another case criminalizing unusual parenting:
A Florida woman faces child abuse charges for the way she tried to get her kids to stop fighting.

Police say Lorena Simpson slammed on the brakes to get her children, who were in the backseat, to stop arguing. Her 12-year-old daughter in the front seat wasn't buckled in when her mom hit the brakes. The sudden stopping caused her to slam her head into the windshield.

Sullivan says she had no idea anything was wrong until police showed up three days later.

"I didn't (do it) on purpose or intentionally harm my daughter, you understand," Simpson told ABC affiliate WPBF-TV. "If she ever once complained to me and said, 'hey mom I think I have a headache,' (but) she didn't. I'm heartbroken. My kids are gone."

The 12-year-old told investigators that she did complain of dizziness and a headache. Police also point out that the girl's head cracked the vehicle's windshield.

"There was no bump, so I'm sorry but I guess I did the wrong thing," Simpson said.

Simpson was arrested on a felony charge of child abuse. All three kids are now in their father's custody.
The root cause here was probably giving the mom custody of the kids, instead of the dad. The kids were probably fighting because the mom cannot discipline them, and there is no limit on her dopey ideas without a man in her life.

I don't know how you slam the brakes so hard that a kid in the backseat cracks the front windshield with her head. I would have thought that the air bags would deploy before that happened. (A reader points out that I misread the story. The 12yo in front hit the windshield. I guess the 12yo did not get a bump on the head.)

Dumb as this is, I still do not see it as felony child abuse. The mom was using her judgment to teach the kid a lesson, not to deliberately harm the kid. It was an isolated accident.


Anonymous said...

"Her 12-year-old daughter in the front seat wasn't buckled in when her mom hit the brakes."

Anonymous said...

Kids! What a drag, what a bummer, when you are trying to live your life, have a little fun, maybe go to a wine tasting.

So they were bundled up in a car, but there was - like - an iPhone monitoring them. What's the big deal?

Let's say you come home from work. You want to watch South Park. But goddamn children, that you made the stupid mistake of having. Would it be wrong, would there be something reprehensible about locking them in a closet, strapped in with a seatbelt arrangement - provided you had an iPhone to monitor them?

Ok - maybe the closet is a bit harsh. Would it be ok, then, to strap them into comfy chairs in another room, somewhere safe, so you could ignore 'em and get some damn peace and quiet for an hour?

Here's the thing, AngryDad: a person who does that once will do it again.

Note that the "father"'s name is different to the mother's. Whenever your hear about a man abusing a child, it's almost always the mother's boyfriend, or a stepdad of some sort. It is *rare* for a man to treat his natural children like this.

JohnR219 said...

Anyone who does this nowadays is a raging idiot. For a wine tasting? No jail, heavy fine. They are guilty of major stupid.