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Thread: Is It A Crime?

  1. #1

    Default Is It A Crime?

    A couple weeks ago in the Cincinnati area, a 40-year-old mother left her 2-year-old daughter in the car while she was at work. The child was found dead hours later when a co-worker went out to the parking lot to fetch something out of her own car.

    Is this a crime?

    OK, now allow me to add in some details which MAY change your mind: The mother is an assistant principal at a junior high in the suburbs, making $80K. She normally dropped her daughter off at day care on the way to school but apparently was distracted from her routine because she stopped off to buy donuts to school for the teachers.

    The outdoor temperatures at the time were in the upper 90s. The temperature in the vehicle was over 120. The child's body temperature was over 110.

    Oh, and the vehicle mom was driving? A Mercedes-Benz SUV.

    OK, now is it a crime?

    Many in Cincinnati seem to think so... with the focus being on a) the mother's income level and professional status as an educator and b) she drives a "high priced" vehicle.

    However, today it was announced that the county prosecutor would NOT file charges, nor take it to the grand jury. He considers it an accident, not a crime.

    The papers and talk radio are full of angry folks, demanding justice. A common line of argument is "If she were black, unemployed and driving a beat-up Ford wagon, she'd be in jail right now."

    Without getting into what may be the unique legal dynamics of Ohio law (which I'm not smart enough to address), what do you think?

    Mark

    PS Interestingly, about a month ago, a pediatrician was charged with child endangerment when he left his toddler for a few minutes in the 90+ degree heat in a sealed-up Porsche. (That child suffered no apparent injuries. The Porsche suffered a broken window, courtesy of the cop who came upon the situation.)

    BTW, the Mercedes SUV was ten years old, had been in a wreck but fixed up by her husband to provide "safe" transportation for the child.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    That reminds me of a recent story I read on CNN about a mother who left her two children in car because her babysitter cancelled and she was too afraid to call off of work.

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/04/tod....ap/index.html

    The woman in this case has been charged with two counts of homicide by child abuse. The only difference I see in these cases are that the mother in South Carolina left the children in the car knowingly- even giving them fans, drinks and food-- while the woman in Ohio claims she was distracted and forgot about her child.

    I've never really understood how someone can say that they "forgot" about their child or was distracted because they stopped for donuts- did she leave the child in the car when she walked in to get her donuts? One would almost have to feel sorry for someone who "forgot" about their child because they were so distracted- maybe it's time for a break???

    The pain that these women will have to deal with for the rest of their lives will probably be, more than likely, unbearable at times. Accidents happen, but you still need to be accountable for your actions, therefore a crime.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    Hang the *****

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    A very similar event occurred several years ago (in Des Moines?), including, I believe, the fact that it happened to someone of some means or class. And it was very controversial. Prosecutors have a lot of discretion. And unless you work in the criminal field, it's hard (from my perspective anyway) to get a sense of how this unusual type of tragedy is handled. Also, you've given a great amount of detail, but we still may not be privy to all the facts. And as you admit, what crime? It's not like this happens every day. Certainly she was negligent, and if it had been someone else's child, she would have been sued at the least in civil court, if nothing criminal had been charged. Certainly she did wrong. But if you want to look at an appropriate punishment, she's arguably suffered one of the greatest punishments possible.

    As for talk radio, it's generally their mission to stir things up and create controversy, by exaggerating and accentuating difference, particularly as it applies to race. I seriously doubt black folks (in general) are up in arms about a white woman not being charged under these circumstances. But talk radio could be stirring up that angle to create controversy.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    Yes, it is a crime. At the very least, it's negligence of a child, regardless of who did it and what kind of car she was driving. The mom will have to live with it for the rest of her life, but still, she committed a crime.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    It happened in Massachusetts a few years back, as well. One of the parents forgot it was their day to drop their kid off at day care and left him in the car where he died.
    To those who don't understand how someone could make this mistake, you are probably not working parents. In my house, it is complete chaos trying to get kids ready and everyone out of the house so I can get to work on time.

    BTW, I still think it is a crime, but "Hang the *****" is not appropriate for someone who has made a horrible mistake that they will live with for the rest of their life.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    If after investigating, it was found that she truly forgot , then I would consider it an accident and not press charges.

    Sometimes accidents happen.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    Quote Originally Posted by ODH View Post
    To those who don't understand how someone could make this mistake, you are probably not working parents. In my house, it is complete chaos trying to get kids ready and everyone out of the house so I can get to work on time.
    I don't understand how someone could "forget" they have a child in their backseat- and yes, I am a working, single mother of 2. My mirrors are strategically placed so that I can see the road, as well as, my backseat at all times. But in the same breath, I understand mistakes happen, we're all human. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child and God willing, I hope I never do. To top it off, I can't imagine it happening due to something I did. These are accidents that could've easily been prevented. But in the end, it's not me judging... I can't pretend to be any more perfect than the next person.

    It's a fine line, I guess. In the case of the woman that knowingly left her children in the car, even with fans, food and drinks, I think it's a crime. She left a 4 year old and a 1 year old alone, first of all. Secondly, she left them in the South Carolina heat for 11 hours. I'm sympathetic to the fact that she didn't want to lose her job and didn't have a babysitter- but I guarantee that if she had the choice again, she'd choose her children over the job.

    In the case of the woman who "forgot"- she stopped for donuts on her way to work, so she not only left her child once, but twice, I think she was negligent- but I'm sure with most judges (or a jury) would find that she has suffered enough.

    It kind of reminds me of an Oprah show a few months ago- she did a show about parents/ grandparents who had accidentally ran over their child and the guilt that they had to face day to day... They are/were heartbreaking stories. Makes you slow down a little bit.

  9. #9
    Olympic Champ RYou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is It A Crime?

    This is one of the side effects of law that requires a young child to ride in the rear seat. Had the child been in the front, it would never had occurred.

    Granted it the death happens rarely, but how many times do you think a parent has forgotten, only to remember before the tragedy occurred.

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