Melissa Henderson had requested her 14-year-old daughter, Linley, to babysit the four younger siblings when COVID-19 closed her children’s daycare in May 2020 and she had to go to work.
Linley was working remotely when her younger brother, 4-year-old Thaddeus, spotted a buddy outside and approached him to play. Linley didn’t know he was absent for approximately 10 or 15 minutes. She assumed he was at his friend’s place and went to retrieve him.
Linley was apparently studying online when her younger brother, Thaddeus, snuck out of the house unannounced. When Thaddeus saw his friend, he walked out and went to play with him in Blairsville, Georgia. Linley discovered he was gone and located him within 10 to 15 minutes at a friend’s house down the street.
In the meantime, the friend’s mother contacted the cops. Henderson was arrested in front of her children two weeks later. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Henderson is a single mother of five children who works, according to little is known about her. Thaddeus may have been abducted, ran over, or bitten by a venomous snake, according to the arresting officer, Deputy Sheriff Marc Pilote, who stated in his arrest record that anything could have happened to him.
Henderson was handcuffed and arrested, and she later described ‘curling up in a ball in the corner and just wanted to hide’ in the Union County jail. Her ex-husband ended up bailing her out in the end.
She told Reason, “I almost don’t have words for how low it made me feel.” “To honestly believe that if I’m anything, it’s a wonderful mother, and that everything you do is for your children. To be stripped of everything to the point of being handcuffed in front of them “David DeLugas, her attorney, has contended that the charge is unlawful. He’s attempting to get it dismissed.
Henderson, a single mother from Blairsville, Georgia, is now facing accusations of criminal reckless conduct for allowing her 14-year-old daughter to babysit. A year in jail and a $1,000 fine are the maximum penalties for the offences. (When Henderson objected that the boy had only been gone for a few minutes, Pilote said that a deadly snake only required a few minutes.)
Here’s a picture of the crowded street and jungle-like environment Thaddeus found himself in. On the right, Henderson shot his friend’s house from her porch.
National Association of Parents, Inc. has a GoFundMe page set up to help them. “Melissa is eventually detained under Georgia’s Reckless Conduct legislation, which the Georgia Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 1997 when applied to essentially identical conditions.
Before Melissa was arrested, ParentsUSA‘s Executive Director alerted the arresting Deputy Sheriff, the Magistrate Judge who issued the warrant, and the District Attorney’s office of the 1997 Georgia Supreme Court ruling “the text on their website says.
Henderson also has the backing of ParentsUSA, a non-profit organization dedicated to “preserving and supporting the parent-child bond via strategic litigation and education, and is devoted to upholding parents’ fundamental constitutional rights.”
The organization stated in a statement, “ParentsUSA supports parents whose rights are violated when making decisions about their children that do not harm them, as set down by the US Supreme Court.
Please join us in supporting this mother’s defense, which, we hope, will send a message to district attorneys, courts, and law enforcement that they cannot use their personal judgments of “good” and “poor” parenting in making arrest and prosecution decisions!”
Henderson’s lawyer, David DeLugas, claims that prosecuting a mother for a typical parenting decision was found illegal by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1997. A mother left her 11-year-old babysitting a younger brother who perished in a horrible accident in that case.
Even back then, the court found that calling the mother’s action irresponsible was arbitrary and subjective. Furthermore, as DeLugas points out, Georgia’s own child protective rules state that children as young as 13 can babysit.
DeLugas is the creator of Parents USA, an organization dedicated to combating incidents like these. He submitted a second move to dismiss the lawsuit three weeks ago.
About a year before, the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services had investigated Henderson when Thaddeus, who was three at the time, went outside. When the second incident happened, she was no longer under DFCS monitoring.
Henderson’s behavior was investigated by DFCS this time and determined to be unexceptional, therefore the matter was closed. Pilote, on the other hand, remembered the preceding probe and, assuming there was a trend, he ordered the arrest two weeks later. Henderson told Reason that five cop cars arrived at her home.
She recalls, “I almost don’t have words for how low that made me feel.” “To honestly believe that if I’m anything, it’s a wonderful mother, and that everything you do is for your children. To be stripped of everything to the point of being chained in front of them.”
She was brought to the county prison in a police car, where she was photographed, fingerprinted, and handed a pair of bright orange crocs to wear. She was then imprisoned. She recalls curling up in a ball in the corner and simply wanting to hide. Her ex-husband helped her get out of jail.
When I spoke with Jeff Langley, the district attorney, he said he thought the officers behaved responsibly because the youngster had been outside on his own before. He went on to say that even if Henderson was found guilty, she would most likely not be sentenced to prison, but that prohibiting her from having her daughter babysit could be a good idea. “All we want to do is keep the kids in our tiny neighbourhood safe,” he adds.
The youngster was “wandering nude in a rainstorm,” according to Langley. There was no storm in actuality since the youngster was simply wearing a shirt.
The cops advised Langley that 14-year-old Linley had “some degree of learning difficulty,” making her an untrustworthy sitter, according to Langley.
Henderson informed me that her daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD earlier. She has a 4.45 GPA, is vice president of the 4-H Club, ran varsity track for the school, finished the Red Cross Childcare programme, and is CPR certified.
However, having a superstar adolescent should not be required before a parent can make rapid childcare arrangements during a pandemic. That’s why Let Grow is seeking to limit state neglect laws so that they only apply when parents put their children in imminent danger, not when they make a decision that a cop or caseworker finds objectionable.
In terms of the occurrence itself, four is a very young age. It would be wise for the boy’s parents to remind him not to walk outside without alerting anybody. However, a youngster “wandering off” to play with the neighbor was once considered childhood rather than child abuse.