In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic shutdown, single mom of five, Melissa Henderson, finally is able to go back to work and the income is very much needed. Outside child care is not available as they remain closed. She turns to her 14 year old daughter to look after her younger siblings. Her young son slips out and goes to the neighbor's house where his buddy lives, is gone "10 to 15 minutes," and the neighbor brings this boy into her home and calls the police.
Melissa is later arrested under Georgia's Reckless Conduct statute, a statute found unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1997 when applied to nearly identical facts. The arresting Deputy Sheriff, the Magistrate Judge that issued the warrant, and the District Attorney's office all were informed of the 1997 Georgia Supreme Court decision by ParentsUSA's Executive Director BEFORE Melissa was arrested.
Adding insult to injury and making this arrest and prosecution lacking entirely in probable cause, the Georgia DFCS Guidelines state:
"Children thirteen years and older, who are at an adequate level of maturity, may be left alone and may perform the role of babysitter, as authorized by the parent, for up to twelve hours."
Why then arrest Melissa, an arrest that included booking, fingerprints, mug shot, and being placed in a holding cell?
Why then a year later bring the Accusation and require defense of the charges in the Superior Court?
ParentsUSA stands with parents whose rights are violated as they make decisions about their children, without causing harm to them, a standard the US Supreme Court established. Please support our defense of this mother which defense and, we expect, exoneration also sends the message to district attorneys, judges, and law enforcement that they must not use their personal assessment of "good" and "bad" parenting into their decisions to arrest and prosecute!
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National Association of Parents, Inc. d/b/a ParentsUSA preserves and supports the parent-child relationship through strategic litigation and education and is committed to protecting the fundamental Constitutional rights of parents!