A Single Mother Is Facing Prison Time After Letting Her Teenage Daughter Babysit….
This is outrageous, plain, and simple...
Melissa Henderson, a single mom of five, is being prosecuted after letting her oldest daughter, 14, babysit.
Yes, you read it right... the single mom was arrested in front of her kids.
The mom from Georgia was not acting recklessly. Like the rest of us, she found herself in the middle of the pandemic and had to go to work in May 2020. With her younger son's daycare closed, she left her teenage daughter to care for her little brother.
However, the boy wandered away for 15 minutes, leaving mom in fear of getting jail time.
Her daughter, 14-year-old Linley, was doing online school while Melissa's son, a 4-year-old Thaddeus, spotted a friend outside and walked out.
Linley found her brother soon, but the mom was already in trouble. The boy's friend's mom called 911. Two weeks later, Mellisa was taken to the station in front of her children.
This was not the first time the teenager babysit her siblings, a common practice in many households. However, it was the first time the children saw five squad cars turning up in front of their home to arrest their mom.
Now Mellisa, a single mom in Blairsville, Georgia, is facing criminal reckless conduct charges for letting her 14-year-old babysit. The charges carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $1,000.
The arresting officer, Deputy Sheriff Marc Pilote, wrote in his report that anything terrible could have happened to Thaddeus, including being kidnapped, run over, or "bitten by a venomous snake." (When Henderson protested that the kid was only gone a few minutes, Pilote responded that a few minutes was all the time a venomous snake needed.)
The case has been dragging on for almost two years now, while Henderson's lawyer, David DeLugas, argues that charging a mom for a normal parenting decision was declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1997. In that case, a mom left her 11-year-old babysitting a younger sibling who died in a tragic accident.
Even then, the court ruled, it was arbitrary and subjective to call the mom's decision reckless. What's more, DeLugas points out, Georgia's own child protective guidelines say kids can babysit at the age of 13.
DeLugas is the founder of Parents USA, which exists to fight cases like this. Three weeks ago he filed a new motion to dismiss the case.
Henderson had been investigated by the Georgia Division of Family and Children's Services about a year earlier, when Thaddeus, age three at the time, had also wandered outside. She was no longer under DFCS supervision when this second incident occurred.
DFCS investigated Henderson's conduct this time around and found it unexceptional, the case was closed.
Watch the video report below for more details: