The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Poisonous Parents: Prisoners & Plaintiffs

This entry is part 11 of 26 in the series poisonous parenting

I haven’t had a chance to address the news that Arkansas will have an anti-gay adoption initiative on the ballot if the Arkansas Family Council has it’s way, now that it has the go ahead to start gathering the necessary signatures. (And, no slight to any Arkansans reading this, but my guess is that they won’t have much trouble getting enough signatures.)

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel certified the Family Council’s proposed initiated act, clearing the way for the conservative organization to begin collecting signatures. If enough have been gathered by summer, the proposal will qualify for the ballot in the Nov. 4, 2008, election.

…The measure is the Family Council’s latest response to the 2006 Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional the state’s administrative ban on homosexuals serving as foster parents.

After failing to get the Legislature to prohibit gays or unmarried couples from adopting and fostering children, the organization came forward with the proposed initiated act.

It would go farther than the foster parenting ban, also applying to adoption, but the current proposal doesn’t mention homosexuals.

The proposal would ban unmarried sexual partners who live together — same-sex or opposite-sex — from adopting or becoming foster parents. Cox said it wouldn’t apply to single people, whether gay or straight.

He said he’s been told that gay couples in Arkansas are adopting children.

“The door is wide open for that to occur,” Cox said. “What we want to do is close that door.”

And close it quick, because you don’t want any of those kids ending up in safe, loving, supportive, homes with two same-sex parents. After all, if only people who can make babies are fit to be married, only people who can make babies are fit to be parents. Right?

Parents like Jessica Botzko, who recently got four years for keeping her kids in a cage.

A mother convicted of punishing her son by forcing him to sit in a dog cage was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comJessica Botzko, 28, fought back tears as she told the judge that she was not a monster.

“I’m not a criminal,” she said. “Just a mother who loves her boys.”

Botzko pleaded no contest last month to child endangering.

She and her boyfriend, John Westover, 37, were jailed after their 10-year-old son escaped their Toledo home when he grabbed his 5-year-old brother and ran away while his dad was out and his mom was dancing at a strip club. He told officers that he was tired of being put in a dog cage, police said.

The oldest boy, at times, had to wear a remote-controlled shock collar and was repeatedly zapped by the device meant to train animals, police said.

The boy told officers that he also was caged when his father was using or making drugs, police said.

They weren’t married, Botzko and Westover, but apparently they made babies together, so as far as the Maryland Court of Appeals is concerned they can marry. Even Westover is convicted after his upcoming trial. Even if they’re housed in separate prisons. If they have access to a phone, or a couple of proxies, they can get married. Because they made babies, regardless of the conditions their kids lived in.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comAt least once the 10-year-old boy was made to wear the collar – designed as a training device for animals – while inside the cage and was repeatedly shocked, court documents said. The cage, less than 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide, had a chain across the top with two locks on each end, said police Capt. Ray Carroll.

“He had to tuck his knees into his chest and he fell asleep in there on a couple occasions,” Carroll said. “It wasn’t continuous. It was probably on and off for punishment.”

The older boy and his 5-year-old brother ran away from home Tuesday night when their father was away and their mother was dancing at a strip club, police said. They were found a few blocks away on a neighbor’s porch.

The 10 year old weighed about 61 lbs., and told police he had not eaten in a couple of days.

But the parents here are heterosexual. So, if they were in Maryland they’d be candidates for marriage. If they went to Arkansas, I’d like to hope they’d have a hard time adopting even with the advantages of being married and heterosexual. A gay couple who didn’t have their history of child abuse, however, wouldn’t stand a chance.

Botzko and boyfriend shouldn’t despair though. They can take a cue from Michael and Sharen Gravelle, a married heterosexual couple charged with caging their 11 adopted children, and sue state workers for entering their home and finding the cages.

A couple convicted of forcing some of their 11 adopted children to sleep in cages have sued county social workers and other officials in federal court, accusing them of illegally entering their home.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comMichael and Sharen Gravelle claim in the lawsuit that Huron County social workers and sheriff’s deputies violated their constitutional rights when their special-needs children were removed from the home in 2005. The officials had received a tip about children sleeping in cages.

…The Gravelles were each sentenced in February to two years in prison for child endangering and child abuse. The Gravelles have filed appeals on all charges and are free on bond until they are exhausted, which could take a year or longer.

The Gravelles have suffered emotional distress and the loss of their reputation, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. They seek compensation from the county, including attorney fees.

Granted the Gravelle’s kids were adopted, but as a heterosexual couple with the possibility of procreation on their side, the Maryland Court of Appeals would give them the marriage nod. Not us, though, even though the closest thing to a cage in our house were the baby gates we used to keep Parker off the stairs as a toddler.

Of course, we never considered locking our toddler in the bathroom and leaving him there, For days. [Via Parents Behaving Badly.]

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comA 2-year-old girl who was found bruised and abandoned inside a locked bathroom may have been left alone for up to two days, state Child Protective Services officials said.

Police found the toddler Sunday night after upstairs neighbors in the apartment complex reported hearing crying and banging in a bathtub below, according to an affidavit filed by the state agency on Tuesday. Neighbors told a case worker that the noise had been going on for about two days.

“The lock on the bathroom door had been inverted so it was locked from the outside,” a case worker said in the affidavit. The girl “looked dirty and looked like she had not eaten for a couple of days.”

Police said they were still searching for the child’s mother, Adrianna Mendietta, 28.

Dad’s was out of touch and Mom was missing, but both were found together and Mom was arrested, presumably for abandoning their child in a nearly empty apartment.

Officers entered the apartment by breaking a window and found the girl in a master bedroom bathroom, Bridge said. The girl was taken to Driscoll Children’s Hospital and was placed Tuesday in a foster home, said Child Protective Services spokesman John Lennan.

The apartment had no furniture and only contained clothes and papers, the affidavit said. Investigators found a child’s blanket, pillow and water bottle in the floor of a closet and a 9mm handgun elsewhere in the home.

Staff at Driscoll Children’s Hospital found that the girl suffered bruising on her buttocks and down her legs, multiple bruising on both arms, a one-quarter-inch bruise on top of her right ear and two cuts on her hand, the case worker said in the affidavit.

She also suffered continuous bruising from her buttocks to her knees that wrapped around from the outside of her legs to her inner thighs and bruising on her right cheek at the corner of her mouth, the report said.

The empty apartment makes it sound almost like they were planning to move out and leave the child behind. I’ve heard of people doing that with unwanted pets, but never with apparently unwanted kids.

I don’t know why Dad wasn’t arrested together with Mom, but at least they got together long enough to make a baby. That’s all that really matters, right?

Same goes for the couple who left 100 bruises on their five-year-old.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comEzra Hazell, 29, was booked on Tuesday on five counts of child abuse. Kristie Hazell, 25, the girl’s stepmother, was booked on two counts of child abuse.

Police said they observed 100 wounds on the girl’s back, buttocks, legs, arms and chest.

…Hazell told police he would normally discipline his daughter by ordering her to get into a push-up position while he stood by her side and beat her with a nylon military belt.

Police said Hazell told them that on one occasion, while his daughter was in a push-up position, he placed an open book on the floor in front of her face. He would ask her the meaning of certain words and if she got it wrong or wasn’t paying attention, he would hit her with the belt.

Good grief. The worst we give Parker is a time out, and to temporarily take away toys, etc., until his behavior changes. And even his time outs are spent with one of us, usually in our laps, but at least in the same room.

Both the Botzko and boyfriend, and the Gravelle’s are from Ohio. So, let’s go back to that state give a nod to another example of stellar straight parenting. Remember the kid who planned a “Columbine-like” massacre in his school?

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comA 14-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday night after the police received a tip that he was plotting a shooting spree at a high school in this northern suburb of Philadelphia, the authorities said.

The police said that the boy had been planning a “Columbine style” attack on students at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and that in searching his home, they had found a 9-millimeter assault rifle, dozens of authentic-looking BB and air guns, and seven hand grenades he was making, four of which were operational.

At a news conference Thursday, the Montgomery County district attorney, Bruce L. Castor Jr., stood before a table that held the seized weaponry, which looked daunting even though most of it was air-powered imitations.

Guess who bought him that assault rifle? You guessed it. Mom.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comMichele Cossey, 46, faces charges in connection with her son’s alleged plan for a Columbine-like attack on a school. She is accused of buying him a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle, a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle and black powder used to make grenades.

“There’s a lot of things at play here,” Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. said. “You have a child who is obviously emotionally disturbed and a social outcast, and no doubt the parents feel sorry for him and are indulging him.

“This is not the best parenting I’ve ever seen, obviously, and she has to be held accountable for that.”

Cossey was charged Friday with unlawful transfer of a fiream, possession of a firearm by a minor, corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of reckless endangerment.

Dad, meanwhile, faces possible criminal charges too.

Closer home, another kid made threats at school, and while there’s no reports on whether his mom bought his weapon, mom did buy the marijuana that police found when they searched the house.

A Stafford County teen and his mother were arrested after the youth allegedly made threats against his fellow classmates.

Authorities said the 16-year-old threatened his classmates at Mountain View High School in Stafford on Tuesday after a camera was stolen from a classroom last week.

The teen allegedly made statements about possibly shooting up the class and stabbing anyone who “snitched,” officials said. The teen had been previously questioned about the missing camera.

Police said that a search of the teen’s residence turned up a BB gun, a knife, stolen street signs and some marijuana.

The mother of the teenager, Michelle Jones, admitted that the marijuana was hers. She was issued a summons for possession of marijuana.

Those two stories concern potentially lethal kids, but no entry in this series would be complete without the latest reports on nearly or actually lethal parents.

Like Katharine Renae Bodem, whose 11-month-old drowned in the bathtub while mom shopped for shoes online.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comLakeville police said that Katherine Renae Bodem, 38, was shopping for shoes online when her daughter, Cecelia Katherine, drowned in the bathtub.

In a criminal complaint filed in Dakota County, a Lakeville investigator said that several officers arrived at Bodem’s home on Aug. 25 to find two women out in front of the house administering CPR to a baby. Officers said another woman, who was identified as Bodem, was standing nearby and was frantically yelling, “It’s all my fault” and repeatedly told officers, ““I’m so stupid, this has been a horrible year for me.”

Investigators said Bodem told police that she put the girl and her 2-year-old son in the bathtub on the main floor of the house while she went downstairs for a few minutes where her other two children were playing. Bodem told officers that said she could still hear Cecelia and her brother playing and laughing, but after there was silence, she went upstairs and saw her son pulling Cecelia from the tub.

Bodem told police at the time that she had left the two children unattended in the tub for about 10 minutes.

Now, I don’t want to pick on a depressed and distraught mom, but in everything I’ve read about parenting, the child-care courses we took before Parker was born, and the infant CPR class we took as well, it was drummed into my head that a child can drown in just a few inches of water, and in a matter of minutes. Parker’s almost five years old now, and we still don’t leave him unattended in the bathtub. (Mainly because one of us still has to bathe him if he’s going to get clean instead of just playing in the water.

But what do I know? I’m just a ‘mo who cant make babies or get married. Because I’m a ‘mo.

Maybe it’s me, but it seems like raising a child in a safe, loving, stable home is at least as important if not more important than just getting them born. The parents above have managed to accomplish the latter, intentionally or not, and those who aren’t married at least can marry if so inclined, even after subjecting their kids to some horrific treatments and conditions. Because they can make babies, how well they actually raise and care for them notwithstanding.

The hubby and I can’t procreate with one another, but we’re raising our son in a home where he’s loved, nurtured and secure. That’s something the parents above hadn’t married.

So, other than the set of genitals they possess and what they do with them, what exactly do they have on us?

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