Letting Them Get Away With Killing Our Children by Harry Crouch

© San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, August 12, 2001

Reproduced with permission of the author.


 

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In June 2001, 7-year-old Noah Yates walked into the bathroom as his mother was killing his 6-month-old sister, Mary. Noah ran, but his mother chased him down, dragged him back to the bathroom and killed him, too. Noah's three younger brothers, Luke, Paul and John, already lay dead in the bedroom. Total body count, five. Media interest in the dead children: zero. Media interest in the mother, Andrea Yates: up there with Chandra Levy.

Her postpartum depression made her do it, according to assorted behavioral experts. Which made Andrea Yates a highly-publicized victim, even though she continued to have children after being diagnosed with the condition, and, as a nurse, perhaps ought to have known the consequences.

Yates, facing a possible death penalty, must be hoping such a charitable interpretation of her actions will be sustained at her trial. There is ample precedent.

Last December, Paula Thompson tried to drown her 4-month-old twins in the bathroom of her San Clemente home. She pled guilty to two counts of child endangerment, received five years probation and 160 hours of community service and was fined $200 — $100 for each baby she tried to kill. At her sentencing in July, Judge Pamela Iles noted, "This is not a child abuse case. This is a postpartum depression case." Encouragingly, the judge told Thompson, "You look terrific. When I first saw you, you looked like death warmed over."

Had either of these two women's husbands committed those crimes, their treatment would likely have been far harsher. More likely, they would get what 28-year-old Kevin Camp received for the 1998 beating death of his girlfriend's toddler: life in prison. Since the University of Las Vegas student has no previous criminal record, he's eligible for parole in 20 years.

Baby-sitter Sonja Hickson of Hardy, Virginia, could have received a combined 20 years in prison for administering a "blunt injury" to the head of 13-month-old Fran Vermillion. Instead, she was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to visit little Fran's grave on the anniversary of her death.

There are numerous examples of such disparities. While men, too, are known to suffer from depression with psychotic symptoms, they are rarely treated as victims, let alone old friends.

For hurling the little bichon frise [dog] Leo into San Jose traffic in a fit of "road rage," Andrew Burnett had the book thrown at him, getting three years in prison for animal cruelty. For shaking 11-month-old George "Skipper" Lithco to death in a fit of baby-sitting rage, Lynn Matthews of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., convicted of manslaughter, received just four more months imprisonment than Burnett.

The disparities extend to the latest phenomenon noted by the media: adults who leave children to suffocate to death in sweltering hot cars.

Ten-day-old Joy Baker died inside one while her mother, Gail Baker, played video poker for seven hours in a South Carolina casino. Baker received a five-year suspended sentence, five years probation and court-ordered counseling. James Adams, on the other hand, got seven years in prison for leaving his 4-year-old ward and nephew, Damon, to suffocate in the spring heat inside his truck while Adams worked a 10-hour shift at an Ohio plant.

Last January, Sally Ann Schofield of Chelsea, Maine, tied her foster child to a high chair in a dark basement surrounded by filth and bare concrete walls.

Five-year-old Logan had awoken in an angry mood, Schofield told police, so she tied her up in the basement for a little time-out.

Investigating officer Jeffrey Mills "found large amounts of duct tape with clumps of numerous long hairs attached...drops of blood on the floor and blood smears on the high chair...hairs were pulled from Logan's upper lip and from the sides of her face."

Because Schofield, a former child protection caseworker, had two small children of her own at home, in addition to Logan's little brother, she was released on $500 bond after being arraigned for manslaughter (the trial is pending). "They (other officials) do not want to hold her overnight because she had little children and she should be at home," the arraigning judge explained.

If these comparisons of treatment seem cold and unforgiving, try focusing on the dead children instead of forever trying to explain away such crimes as the result of gender-based "disabilities." Or at least consider the possibility that males might also be suffering from disabilities. Does anyone doubt, for example, that Lionel Tate, the 14-year-old who received life without the possibility of parole for beating 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick to death while they were playing at his mother's home, might not be entirely right in his head?

Child murder will not stop, no matter how much "understanding" the experts instruct us to feel. The least we could do is close this particular gender divide and punish people based on the brutality of their crime, not on the sex of the perpetrator.

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| EJF Home | Find Help | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter |

 

| Families And Marriage Book | Abstract | Family site map | Family index |

 

| Chapter 8 — Child "Protective" Services —Who's Minding The Minders? |

| Next — Why Was Massachusetts Mother Shackled For Not Giving Baby To Strangers? by Ed Oliver |

| Back — The Truth About Child Abuse by Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D. |


 

Last modified 4/11/15