Mom Arrested After Boyfriend Beats Her Child To Death, Everything About This Story Is Tragic
When a child is hurt, and the perpetrator is arrested, they call that justice. But just because that’s how our legal system works, doesn’t mean it’s always the right solution. If you know that your child has been abused by your partner but you leave them alone and then the child dies, should you as a mother be arrested for your failure to protect your offspring? That’s the situation for Dominique Smith, 24,Â of Chicago, aÂ mother who was arrested after her boyfriend beat her child to death.
Jezebel.com shares the details of how on January 6, 2015, Smith’s boyfriend, Dantis Porter,28, allegedly beat Smith’s 16-month-old son while Smith was at work. At the time of his arrest, Porter reported to police that he hit the child out of anger because the child wouldn’t stop crying. When Smith returned home from work she found her son slumped over in his stroller unresponsive.The boy had a fractured skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding. He survived three days in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
Porter has been arrested on a charge of first-degree murder and is being held without bond. Smith has also been arrested on the felony charge ofÂ endangering the life and health of a child. She is being held on a $250,000 bond and has been ordered to have no contact with her three other children, ages 5,4,and 2.
Prosecutors stated that Smith knew her child was in danger. Around Christmas of 2014, Smith allegedly was aware that her son had burns on his body that were given to him by Porter, but she did not want to take the baby to the hospital for fear that the child would be taken away from her. She continued to leave her kids in Porter’s care while she went to work until the tragic incident in January.
This case, like all abuse cases, makes me sick to my stomach. While I understand how the legal system works and part of me wants Smith to be held accountable for not protecting her son, I also know how complicated abuse case are and know that perhaps for her, she was doing what she thought was best for her child, and shouldn’t be punished for that.
I spent nearly five years working as a family law attorney and court clerk for family matters. While I don’t represent anyone in this case and I’m not barred in Illinois, I can say that based on my experiences, Smith’s fears aren’t unfounded. Had she taken the child to the hospital and the doctors suspected or were told that the injuries were from Porter, they have a duty to contact child services.
Had child services become involved and learned that the abuse was at the hands of Porter, it’s highly likely that they would have given Smith the ultimatum of finding a living arrangement where Porter would have no contact with the children or having the children taken from her.
I understand this is the system that’s currently in place for situations like this one and why Porter wouldn’t want child services to get involved, but as a mother, I don’t understand how you could leave your children alone with someone who has the ability to hurt them. Obviously in a perfect world there would be more shelters and supports for victims of abuse, places and people Smith could have turned to for help when she first learned of the abuse.
Under the law, Smith deserves to be arrested. But it won’t change the fact that she has lost a child, and even if she avoids jail time, sheÂ currently cannot have any contact with her children, who are dealing with the loss of a sibling. I don’t know how to fix the system, I only know that the one we have is broken.