Over the years, as a Boston criminal defense attorney, I have come across what has become an “age old question”. The question is what are the limits of disciplining one’s own children. In days gone by, the answer was apparently “whatever works”.
Fortunately, those days are over. However, as with other types of Massachusetts domestic violence matters, the pendulum seems to have swung all the way in the opposite direction. Understand that I am not a believer of corporeal punishment and I do not engage in it with my kids. However, I have seen cases where criminal charges were brought because of one slap as a response outrageous behavior.
Where does the case of Amaurys G., 28, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) of Lawrence, fall on the chart? You decide.
On Friday night, the Defendant was arrested and charged with Massachusetts assault and battery on his children. The kids’ behavior involved arguing over a toy car.
The Defendant’s solution?
Beating the two kids, ages 9 and 10, repeatedly with a phone charger cord and throwing a bag of oranges at his daughter.
After posting $5000 bail, the Defendant was released to return tomorrow to be arraigned on the charges of aggravated assault and battery and two counts of A and B with a dangerous weapon. The weapons, of course, were the wire cord and the oranges.
That’s right…felony charges.
The argument between the siblings took place after they had returned from a park Thursday night. The boy had returned with a toy car he had said a friend had given him. His sister said he had to return the toy. The stepmother, who was on the telephone, angrily asked the two what they were fighting about.
Apparently not soothed by the response, the step mother is said to have called the Defendant to get out of the club and come take care of “these kids” because he was sick and tired of them and could not deal with them anymore.
It would appear that the Defendant was not happy to have to leave said club.
According to the police, the kids were eating in the kitchen when the Defendant got home. He is said to have gone into the bedroom and come out with the phone charger wire cord and began to hit them with it while calling them both “bastards”.
“Parents have the right to discipline their children, but not to the level involving abuse that this outrageous case did,” police Chief John Romero said. “Hitting any child with a wire should not be considered proper discipline. Beating any kid like that is just unbelievable. When (the state Department of) Children and Families became aware of it, they felt the same as we did and reported it to us.”
Law enforcement says that the incident actually took place on Thursday night, but was not discovered until Friday afternoon, when two DCF workers called for a police officer to report to the South Lawrence East School to investigate a child abuse complaint.
“They advised me that they received a report from the school that a student told the school that his father hit him and his sister with a wire and had visible marks to his body,” Officer Christopher Cote wrote in his report.
Apparently, the marks included thin red marks on the boy’s upper right arm and lower right forearm, and a thin red mark to his middle back. The girl had thin red marks to her upper left arm and middle back, according to the police report.
Both children told police that their father has hit them in the past. The daughter said she got whipped with a belt once.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a few of these cases pop up where parents just go too far,” Romero said. “And when these cases come to our attention, we take quick action. This kind of disciplining shouldn’t be happening.”
The DCF workers remained with the children at school while police obtained an arrest warrant for the Defendant.
Attorney Sam’s Take:
There used to be a television sitcom called “Wait ‘Till Your Father Come’s Home“. The implied message, however, has, over the years, become less and less funny. The news too often carries the stories of unbalanced parents actually killing their kids.
Children are the most vulnerable among us, especially when it comes to what happens behind “closed doors” with parents. Today, any charges which allege assaults of any kind against kids are treated very seriously by the criminal justice system.
While it is alleged that there is a history of beatings in this case, such cases do not always have such a history. It is not necessary for there to be such a history in order for criminal charges to be brought. Once is enough for involvement of both the criminal justice system and the Department of Children and Families.
DCF’s investigations and actions are said to be separate and apart from those of the police. Therefore, when any type of abuse of children is alleged, there are two agencies who are, frankly, afraid not to take action. While we are all familiar with what law enforcement may do, many are not clear about DCF. It is DCF who will, in many cases, take custody of the children or make rules which, if you do not follow, they will seek to remove the kids.
All of these cases are considered serious by both the courts and DCF. Therefore, whatever your beliefs regarding discipline, it is vital that you take any hint of an investigation or potential charges very seriously and engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible moment.
The fact is, one unfortunate moment can result in an upset to your family structure which may never be undone.
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_109013945.html