Tag Archives: neglect

Indiana Parents charged with Abandoning Adopted Daughter, but they Claim she was Really a 22-Year Old Sociopath

Kristine and Michael Barnett

The headline is the story, because there is no way to abbreviate the lede: two adoptive parents have been arrested and charged with abandoning their adopted daughter, but they claim she had lied about her age, was really an adult, and had even tried to harm them when she was living with them. If it sounds like something out of a movie, you would be right, because it’s basically the plot of the 2009 film ‘Orphan’.

It’s undisputed that the couple, Michael and Kristine Barnett, adopted the girl, and that she has a growth disorder that maintains her small stature. However, the parents claim that her maturity and subsequent tests later showed that she was much older. They ultimately went to court and had her birth certificate corrected from 2003 to 1989, changing her age from eight to 22. Apparently, the decision was later challenged and upheld by the court. She was then legally an adult, and they helped her get on public assistance and helped her rent a place to live. Police affidavits claim Michael admitted that he knew the girl really was a child, that tests had proven in, and that Kristine had told the girl to tell others she was 22. Michael’s attorney denies the claims in the affidavit. The Barnetts, who are now divorced, are both charged with neglect of a dependent for when they moved to Canada in 2013.

Also, while living at the Barnett home, the possible child allegedly attacked a baby, and trying to poison and electrocute them. It really is the movie ‘Orphan’. Read the whole crazy story at DailyMail.com.

Watch for me on Fox4 News Tonight at 10 p.m.

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

I spoke with Fox4 News this afternoon for a story she is working on regarding the mysterious disappearance of a 9-week old baby from North Port. Specifically, we talked about how the challenges of the case, and how hard to prosecute the case if there is only circumstantial evidence… especially if the State decides to pursue homicide charges, though no body has been found at this time. So far, they have only been charged with child neglect, but that is very much subject to change as more evidence comes in, and the prosecutor reviews the case. It is a terrible tragic case that will likely be a major story for some time to come.

Here’s the Fox4 Website: http://www.scrippsmedia.com/fox4now

How Old Does a Child Need to be Before They Are Left Alone (or Trick-or-Treat)?

  • Most state laws are unclear how old your child needs to be before they can be left alone

A few months ago, Florida mom Nicole Gainey was arrested for child neglect. Her offense: letting her seven-year-old walk a half-mile to the park by himself. The arresting officer noted that there were several convicted sex offenders living in the area. However, in Florida, most sex offenders are prohibited by law from living within 1,000 feet of a park. A search of Florida’s sex offender registry list only one registered offender within a half-mile of the park, in the other direction. That man is not designated as a predator and his offense occurred way back in 1993.

Nicole Gainey and her Son

Nicole Gainey and her Son

Additionally, it was during daytime hours, and Ms. Gainey had given her son a cell phone, that she would call to check up on him. Also, she trained him well, because when he was approached by a concerned citizen at the pool, he became concerned and went ran away. Mom had just checked in with him a few moments before police arrived.

There is no clear law in Florida about how old a child has to be before they are allowed to go to the park alone, or be left home alone, or anything like that. Indeed, most states don’t have such laws, and those that do, vary greatly from state to state, from 6 to 14. That leaves the law open to interpretation: legal a prosecutor could file charges if they felt there was a risk to the child that amounts to neglect. Conversely, it will be hard to win a conviction, as many people on the jury are likely to say, “Shoot, my mom left me home sometimes… and I don’t think she should have gone to jail.”

Arguably, the law leaves a lot of discretion to parents to determine when their children are mature enough to stay alone, and for how long. Parents probably should not be prosecuted, except in cases of clear risk to the children. And an officer should not immediately make a felony arrest in such a situation, he should first refer it to the Dept. of Children and Families for further investigation by specialists to determine if charges are warranted. Unlike a theft or a DUI, this is probably not a judgment call an officer should be making on his own in the field without having a child-care professional weigh in.

This doesn’t tell us how old a child must be to go, say, trick-or-treating by himself or herself (or with friends). The rule of thumb should be to use common sense. The realty of our risk-averse law enforcement system is that a nervous cop could jump the gun and make an unwarranted arrest: so you are better safe than sorry and ought make sure the kids have a chaperon tomorrow night.

The case did end well for Ms. Gainey, the Port St. Lucie Clerk’s records indicate the charges were dropped by prosecutors. That does not spare Ms. Gainey the expense of posting a bond and seeking legal representation, not to mention the degradation of being booked into jail for child neglect and having her name dragged through the mud. For anyone who is arrested for such a charge, seek representation right away, so you can have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to convince prosecutors charges are not warranted.

from latchkey-kids.com via http://lifehacker.com/the-age-kids-have-to-be-before-you-can-legally-leave-th-1652321850?utm_source=recirculation&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=wednesdayPM