In 1992, two twin babies were born to a couple in Grenada. The mother moved to New York shortly after the babies were born. The girl and boy lived with their maternal aunt for the first five years of their lives and had liberal visitation with their father in Grenada. When they were five years old, they moved to New York to live with their mother and her new husband. They continued to have phone contact with their father in Grenada.
Their mother and her new husband had three other children together as the children grew up. When the twins were thirteen years old, the girl twin shared a room with her half-sister and her brother shared a room with his half-brothers. One night toward the end of the year, the girl’s step-father came in to the bedroom that she shared with her half-sister. He got into the bed with her and began to fondle her in a sexual manner. He fondled her breasts and attempted to have sexual intercourse with her. After the encounter, he told her that it was a secret. He did not know that his daughter who shared the room with the girl twin, had witnessed the encounter. The following day, he gave the girl twin money to keep their secret. However, soon after the first encounter, a second encounter happened. In that encounter, the step-father grabbed the girl twin in the kitchen by her bottom and again attempted to have sexual intercourse with her.
Following the first encounter, the daughter who witnessed the bedroom incident went to her mother and told her that her father had molested her step-sister. Her mother told her to be quiet about the incident and that she did not believe her. She told her that the girl twin had a tongue in her mouth to speak out about the incident if she chose to do so. The girl did not speak of the situation to her mother again. She did tell police officers when she was asked about the incident exactly what she had seen.
Following the second incident, the mother took the child to a doctor and told the doctor that she thought that the child was sexually active and wanted to put her on birth control. The doctor spoke to the child and determined the circumstances. He notified the authorities and an investigation was launched into the facts surrounding the situation. During that investigation, the father was excluded from the home and the mother was given custody of the children. However, the mother asked child services if they could remove the girl twin from her house and place her in foster care so that the husband could return to the home. She also told child services that if the incidents had occurred, that the girl twin was just as responsible for the situation as was her husband. She stated that if the incidents had occurred that her daughter was a willing participant and not a victim.
The state was sufficiently offended by this mother’s conduct. However, they removed the girl twin from her home and placed her in foster care pending the outcome of the trial. The father was charged with molesting the child and with derivative neglect against his other children. The mother was charged with neglect against the girl twin for failing to take any steps to ensure that the child was protected after she was notified that the father was molesting her. Statements were taken from the other children. The only one who was aware of any misconduct involving their father and the girl twin was the daughter who had witnessed the first assault.
The father contended that nothing had ever happened and that he had never attempted to molest the child. The court determined that his statements were not believable. The mother was also determined to have a distinct lack of understanding involving the facts and circumstances surrounding child abuse. She continued to side with the father and repeatedly insisted that the girl twin who had been diagnosed with borderline mental retardation was a willing participant. She pointed out that the father was paying the child after each encounter and that the child seemed proud of earning the money.
In fact, the father did pay the child and the child in her limited understanding of the situation was proud that she had been able to turn the situation around so that he was paying her for her silence. She boasted to a court psychiatrist that she had turned the situation around on her stepfather so that he was forced to give her money whenever he behaved badly. The court investigation revealed that the mother had no concept that the child was not able to consent to sexual intercourse at her young age and continued to place fault with the child. Because she failed to protect the girl twin from the assault of her husband even after the other daughter and the twin had gone to her for protection, the court determined that the woman was unable to understand the role of a parent to protect the children in her home. The fact that she had taken the girl to the doctor and told the doctor that she thought that the child was sexually active displayed that the woman believed that the husband was having sexual intercourse with her thirteen year old daughter in spite of her allegations to the contrary.
The mother then took the child to the husband’s defense attorney’s office and had her recant her story in writing before the attorney. The court reviewed the two statements that were made in the form of letters of apology to her stepfather and to the court. They were notarized by another attorney in the defense attorney’s office. One letter was clearly not written by the child as the English and other grammatical factors were well above the child’s ability. The second letter was more in line with the ability of the child to construct, but was made unbelievable by the circumstances that surrounded the case in their entirety. The court evaluated all of the evidence. The court also inquired of the child while on the stand about the letters that were presented. She stated that she had gone with her mother to the attorney’s office and that she had signed the letters. She did not state that she had written them and seemed to have no knowledge of what the letters contained.
The court determined that the child was not safe if she was returned to the mother and stepfather. They were both found guilty of child abuse for the incidents that occurred while the child was in their care. As for the other children in the home, derivative abuse charges were made against both parents due to the fact that neither one of them seemed to have any idea of their responsibility to protect the children in their care.
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