Suspending Common Sense


8-Year-Old Charged For Sexual Conduct With Sitter

It'd be stupid for me to sit here and say that there aren't kids who took up to me, but my responsibility is not to them.
I'm not a baby sitter.

- Eminem

The boy's mother, Michelle Grosbeck

Salt Lake City - A mother is upset after a 14-year-old babysitter engaged in sexual conduct with her 8-year-old boy, and the 8-year-old was charged with lewd conduct.  Prosecutors have since dropped the charges against the boy, but his mother is still concerned.

The sexual conduct occurred during a game of "truth or dare" while the boy was being watched by the babysitter.  Prosecutors say that, while the babysitter initiated the contact, the young boy was a willing participant.  "She dared my son to touch her breasts," says Michelle Grosbeck, the boy’s mother.

After hiring the teenager to baby sit, Grosbeck got the feeling something was wrong.  "It was just that sense that something wasn’t quite right with this 14-year-old girl," she said.  She asked her son what had happened.  "He just came right out as if nothing was awry, and just started talking about what had happened."  Grosbeck went to police and child protection workers, and the case went to the district attorney, after which her son, age 8, had been charged with an act of lewdness with a minor.  Grosbeck says the Salt Lake County District Attorney told her both the child and teenager were equal participants.  But Mrs Grosbeck didn’t believe that.  "My son is 8, he’s a little boy.  He does not have the ability to participate on the same level as a 14-year-old," she said.

Although the charges against her son were dropped, she is concerned that the same thing could happen to other victims of sexual abuse.  "I don’t want parents to be afraid to go to the state agencies that are supposed to be protecting our children when things like this happen, out of fear that their children are going to be charged."  The district attorney’s office confirmed the charges had been made, and that they had been dropped.  Other than that, they wouldn’t comment.  The Division of Child and Family Services also declined to comment.

Source: KUTV © MMV CBS Broadcasting Incorporated all rights reserved

Are parents so desperate for babysitters that they hire them without an interview?  Without finding out even a little about them?  I would be more concerned about the parents of these children than about the children themselves.  At the ages of 8 and 14, they both must've had some idea that what they were doing was wrong, but boundary-testing is common - a heart-to-heart talk should've sufficed.

As for calling the police instead of the babysitter's mother - that's a puzzle.  Why had she not already talked to the girl's mother before leaving her son with the girl?  What do you suppose this mother wanted to have happen to the babysitter?  For the 14-year-old to go to jail?  Public flogging?

Little Girl Faces Felony Charge for Throwing Rock at Little Boy

Fresno - Girl, 11, to go on trial for rock incident.  Mayor stands by police in face of ethnic bias claim.
Maribel Cuevas (front right) and her sisters, Lupita (left) and Perla (far right), wait as their mother,
Guadalupe Cuevas, makes lunch in the kitchen of their Fresno home.

by Juliana Barbassa

Fresno, California - Police apparently came prepared for gang warfare when they sent 3 squad cars and a helicopter in response to a 911 call.  Instead, they found an 11-year-old girl who had thrown a rock to defend herself as neighbourhood boys pelted her with water balloons.  Little Maribel Cuevas says she didn't mean to hurt the boy - who admitted to officers that he started the fight and was quickly released from the hospital after getting his head stitched up.  But police insist she's a criminal - she's being prosecuted on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon.  "We responded.  We determined a felony assault had taken place and the officers took the actions that were necessary," said Fresno Police Seargeant Anthony Martinez.

Her family says Maribel was simply defending herself when 9-year-old Elijah Vang and several other boys pummeled her with water balloons outside her home in a poor Fresno neighbourhood in April.  They say she quickly sought help and tried to apologise to the boy and his family.  The Vangs have since moved away.

"She's 11 ... they're treating her like she's a violent parole offender," said Richard Beshwate, Jr, Maribel's lawyer.

Maribel, who speaks limited English, spent 5 days in juvenile hall with just one 1/2-hour visit from her parents.  She then spent about 30 days under house arrest, forced to wear a GPS ankle bracelet to monitor her whereabouts.  She's due in court August 3.  Officers denied that their response was influenced by the setting - a low-income, largely minority neighbourhood - or language difficulties - Maribel's family speaks limited English, and the responding don't speak Spanish.

With help from their church, the family hired Beshwate to represent Maribel at her upcoming trial.  The lawyer says prosecutors aren't interested in a deal.  Assistant Fresno County District Attorney Bob Ellis said he couldn't comment on the case because it involves children.  Maribel's family said the soft-spoken girl, who turned 11 in March, remains terrified - she's a good student who struggles sometimes because English is her second language, but in a neighbourhood where kids grow up fast, she keeps close to home, helping her mother take care of her 4 younger siblings.  Maribel attends school with the boy, and says she's been taunted by him in the past.  She says was playing on the sidewalk with her 6-year-old brother and other younger children on 29 April when the boys rode by on their bikes.  They started teasing her, calling her names and hitting her with water balloons, she said - while holding her 1-year-old brother in her lap in her family's modest living room where a couch and dining table share space with a crib and a bed.

When the boys refused to leave, Maribel threw a rock at them, hitting Elijah.  The aunt of one of Maribel's playmates saw the boy's forehead was cut, got him a towel to stop the bleeding and called 911, the family said.  Maribel ran to the boy's house, 2 blocks from her own, to tell his parents she was sorry, she said.  Police responded to the call ready to tackle a hardened criminal.  The officers "grabbed me from behind, by my shirt" the girl said in Spanish.  "I was so scared...  I didn't know what they were doing."  Maribel panicked.  The officers had the slight girl down on the ground, and one of them put his knee to her back to restrain her, her mother said in Spanish.  Guadalupe Cuevas couldn't communicate with the officers, because she doesn't speak English, and was pushed away when she tried to reach her daughter.  Maribel was crying, the police report said, but Officer Christopher Green, who handcuffed her, wrote, "We were able to get Cuevas into the back of the patrol vehicle."

Guadalupe Cuevas said didn't understand what was happening.  "The officer was just saying, 'I don't care, I don't care,'" Guadalupe Cuevas said in Spanish.  "He told my nephew he didn't speak his kind of English."  The police report said Green read Maribel her Miranda rights twice - in English.  The report also lists the girl's emotional state as "apologetic" and "hysterical."  Maribel's mother and her father, Martin, were able to see their daughter for 1/2 an hour the day after the incident.  The girl's wrists were bruised, her mother said, and she was scared.  Maribel was kept in juvenile hall without seeing her parents again for 5 nights.  When she was released, she had to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that kept her under house arrest for about 3 more weeks, leaving school early to make it home before the 3pm curfew.

This is a case where the police department "overreacted and won't back down," Beshwate said.  "I don't know if they don't like Spanish speakers, if it's racism, or if they were having a bad day.  But how can you defend this kind of behaviour?"

Source: 15 July 2005 from Associated Press

The girl who threw the rock had gone to alert the boy's parents.  How did his parents feel about what happened?  Why do you suppose the lady called 911 instead of waiting to let the boy's parents handle things?  Why are parents now abrogating their responsibilities and getting authorities involved at the slightest sign of trouble?  The money being spend on lawyers would've paid for a doctor's visit many times over.

It seems to me priorities have gotten skewed so far out of shape as to be unrecognisable.

There's more...

Girl, 11, to Go on Trial for Rock Incident

Mayor Stands by Police in Face of Ethnic Bias Claim

by Greg Lucas and Carla Marinucci

Fresno - Until the afternoon of 29 April, 11-year-old Maribel Cuevas' only connection with law enforcement was involvement in a mentoring program sponsored by the Police Activities League.  But that day a rock she says "slipped from her hand" struck Elijah Vang, 8, in the forehead.  A 911 call led to Maribel being arrested by Fresno police officers, handcuffed and taken to Juvenile Hall, where she stayed for 5 days before a judge released her on the condition she wear an electronic ankle bracelet.  On Wednesday, Maribel is scheduled to go on trial in Juvenile Court on felony assault charges.  Authorities say the rock-throwing incident was too serious to be treated lightly.  But critics of the Police Department's actions, including Maribel's father, say the treatment would have been different if Mirabel wasn't a Latina living in one of the city's poorer neighbourhoods.  "If this were a middle-class or upper-class neighbourhood it would have been a very different outcome," said the Reverend Floyd Harris Jr, who led a 100- person vigil Friday in front of Juvenile Hall to support Maribel.  "Police don't have the same respect for people of colour in this town," Harris said.

Fresno's mayor, Alan Autry, commended the department in a statement.  "In Fresno, we love our children too much to treat this like it was just a childhood dispute when in fact the consequences could have been tragic."  Police defended their actions, saying Maribel intended to hurt the boy and resisted arrest, kicking toward the officers and scratching one on the arm.  "As far as the criminal investigation and how it was resolved, the matter was handled in an appropriate way," said Sergeant Anthony Martinez, a Police Department spokesman.

Maribel's father said his daughter has suffered both mentally and physically from her incarceration and the intense pressure regarding her court date. She has required doctor's visits and medicine, her father said, and a trip to a psychologist last week. "It's affected all of us a lot." A field-worker who earns $250 a week, Martin Cuevas says his daughter's situation has prevented him from working. "I have to go to her appointments, the lawyer, the doctor," he said.

Maribel's lawyer, Richard Beshwate, blames part of her treatment on inaccuracies in the initial police report of the incident.  The report is weighed by judges, probation officers and the district attorney in deciding a case's disposition. The police report listed Maribel's age as 13 and said she threw a 5-pound rock at Elijah, whose age was misstated as 6.  He is 8.  The rock caused a 4-inch gash, the report said.  A report from the hospital where Elijah was taken said the cut was 1½ inches.  It required several stitches.  After earlier press reports, the police said the rock was actually 2½ pounds.  Maribel says the rock that left her hand was much smaller.

The Vangs have since moved and were unavailable for comment.  Maribel's lawyer said the father of the boy, although unhappy about his son's injury, expressed regret that charges were filed against the girl.

Police reports and interviews with witnesses describe the incident this way:

Maribel told her lawyer's investigator she and her 6-year-old brother were playing the front yard of a house with another boy, also 6, and his sisters, ages 4 and 3.  Elijah, his cousin and 5 other boys stopped in front of the house, harassing them.  Elijah threw 3 water balloons at her, 2 of which hit her in the face, Maribel said.  They also threw 9 or 10 rocks.  Two of the rocks hit her, Maribel said, one in the shoulder, one on the side.  She picked up one of the rocks that had been tossed at her and tried to pretend to throw it, she said, but it slipped out of her hand and hit Elijah in the forehead.  Maribel's brother gave Elijah a towel to hold over his bleeding cut.  She said she went to Elijah's house to tell his parents he was hurt, but they weren't there.  When she returned, Maribel's mother was there, as were police officers.

"I placed her into handcuffs and she began struggling with us," the police report says.  "She threw herself to the ground and started kicking at" one of the officers, the report continues.  "We were able to get Cuevas into the back of the patrol vehicle and she began kicking the door and continued crying."  Cuevas was taken to Juvenile Hall.  A witness said the officers told her Maribel would be back in several hours.  Instead, she stayed there 5 days before a hearing.

Greg Lucas and Carla Marinucci are Chronicle staff writers

Source: 2 August 2005 Page B - 1 photo by Gary Kazanjian, Associated Press from

H-m-m-m.  How does the Cuevas family raise 5 children on $250 a week?  A 2½ pound rock does not slip from your hand hard enough to cause a 1½ gash.  The rock could have struck the boy in the eye or the temple.  As long as the proper lessons are learned, this incident could have a net positive benefit for both sides.  Two of the lessons are: don't fight the police and try to tell the truth.

Students Suspended For Bringing Caffeine Syrup To School

SkyRocket syrups

Two students at Monroe High School in the Monroe County School District were suspended for a substance abuse violation.  The substance was caffeine.  The high school seniors apparently shared a sampling of SkyRocket High Octane Super Syrup that was purchased online.

"We had two students that were involved, a student who brought it to school and shared it with a friend," said Ryan McLeod, assistant principal at the high school.  "It was not similar to just a Coke or a Pepsi."

That last part is simply not true.  The syrup contains 100 mg of caffeine per ounce and is used to give a caffeine boost to beverages.  It is almost identical to Coke or Pepsi syrup.  The student brought about an ounce of the syrup to school.  To compare, espresso has 100 mg of caffeine per ounce and a half and a regular cup of brewed coffee has the same in a 6-ounce cup.  A can of Coke has 46 mg and an 8-ounce chocolate bar has 48.

School officials said the student was using the substance with the intention to stay up for 3 nights to play video games.  First, it is absolutely none of the school's business what the student does at home.  If they are genuinely worried about his nighttime gaming habits they have the option to contact his parents to alert them.  They do not have the right to suspend him for an action off of school grounds, most definitely not for an action that had not even happen yet.

Second, what is their excuse for suspending the other student?  To reiterate: The school sells caffeine.  Caffeine is not a prohibited or controlled substance.  The amount of caffeine that this student brought to school was the equivalent of a cup of coffee (which is not prohibited).  I know that we should never attribute to malice what can be ascribed to sheer stupidity but I can't wrap my mind around the level of stupidity that would be required here so I'm going with malice.

The student replies:

Yup, this was me.  :P  I would like to clear some things up though.  Everything about this says we were trying to stay up for 3 nights straight playing video games.  First, the staying up all night was with another friend (doesn't go to our school) and we stayed up till maybe 6am a few times in a row.  We slept that morning.

The friend that was suspended, (lets call him Zee) started pouring the stuff into his water, and some kid decided it wouldn't do any harm to say, "DUDE, ARE YOU SPIKING YOUR WATER!!??"  The assistant principal was called in, and Zee tried to explain what this stuff was commonly used for.  He said "This is the kinda stuff a computer geek might drink to try and stay up for like 3 nights straight playing video games or something."  Of course "staying up for 3 nights straight" was an over-exaggeration, but I guess the schools admins took it too literally and freaked out.

Oh yeah, plus, they originally wanted to expell me!  They wanted to call me a distributor, but they were kind of cool, and just punished me as having possession of an illegal substance at school.  But most of the assistant principals and "important" people, wanted me expelled!

Posted by: John 13 April 2005


Gosh, I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but where are the parents in these scenarios?  Rather than exerting total control, it seems to me schools have lost control.  A little understanding and counselling could go a long way.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Other
Date: 3 Aug 2005 23:59:50 -0000

This message was posted via the Feedback form.
Name: Christopher

Comments: Hello. this is in regards to the caffeine drink incident in Monroe, Michigan.  I currently live in Monroe and I can personally attest to the legendary bad behaviour of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

Well the whole county really.

Now understand that this is not all of them.  But generally they are apathetic of the needs of the public.  They regularly violate people's rights.  I have personally witnessed them do many dirty things.

Supposedly they left a man with gonorrhea in their jail for over a month without treatment although I can not personally verify this.

Needless to say, when I read your article about the SkyRocket incident, I was not at all surprised.  But what can I say?  This is the home of George Custer after all.

Teen Will Not Face Charges For Handing Out Mints At School

Teens Hospitalised After Eating Mints

The police thought these mint something

Massillon, Ohio - Police won't charge a 13-year-old boy who was suspended for 10 days after he brought caffeine-laced mints to school and his classmates got sick.  Nine students between the ages of 12 and 14 were sent to a hospital last month after eating the mints.  The students at Jackson Memorial Middle School near Canton were treated and released for symptoms such as a racing heartbeat.  Police considered filing charges against the boy until they tested the ingredients in the Blast Energy Supplemints.

"We found no illegal substance whatsoever.  Just caffeine," said Major Tim Escola.  Besides caffeine, the pills contain taurine, a common ingredient in energy drinks such as Red Bull.  Police estimated about 39 mints could have been eaten by the students.  According to the label, a single serving is 6 mints, which contains 15 milligrams of caffeine.  That's about half the amount of caffeine in a regular can of soda.

The mints are distributed by Bally Total Fitness Corporation and advertised on the company's website as an ephedra-free pick-me-up for "quick energy support for work, play, school, athletics, weight training and much more."  The boy's mother said she bought the mints at a drug store and that her son took them from her purse without her permission.

School officials suspended the boy for 10 days because school policy prohibits anything that resembles a drug.

Source: 5 April 2005

The same amount of caffeine found in just over 3 cans of soda sent 9 students to the hospital?  His classmates got sick?  This is after they averaged taking the same amount of caffeine as found on 4 ounces of Coke?  It isn't just the students who are over-reacting here.  Get a grip, people.  A kid who wants to share mints with his friends because he wants to be liked - or cool - is suspended for 10 days?  And he is only 13?  Have you all lost your senses??

Okay, it isn't just school authorities who have lost their senses - it's authority in general...

Woman Ticketed for Sitting on a Playground Bench with No Kids

New York - It's an only in New York story.  A woman was given a ticket for sitting on a park bench because she doesn't have children.

The Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side has a small sign at the entrance that says adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child.  Forty-seven-year-old Sandra Catena says she didn't see the sign when she sat down to wait for an arts festival to start.  Two New York City police officers asked her if she was with a child.  When she said no, they gave her a ticket that could bring a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

The city parks department says the rule is designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks, but a parks spokesman told the Daily News that the department hoped police would use some common sense when enforcing the rule. The spokesman told the paper that ticketing a woman in the park in the middle of the day is not the way you want to enforce the rule.

It happened to a woman from Jersey City.  The ticket was given under city law designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks, but the woman says the city went too far.  The Rivington Playground is a lovely place for parents to take their young children.  It is even protected by a rule that prevents adults from sitting there without a child - and apparently they mean it.  Ask Sandra Catena, a dance instructor from Jersey City who walked into the park on Saturday while she was waiting for an arts festival to begin, when she was approached by two police officers.

Sandra Catena, Dance Instructor: "They said it's against the law, you have to be accompanied by a child to sit in a kiddie park and they were giving me a summons.  I said 'you're kidding right?' and he said 'no.'"

Already guarded by two officers, one of whom had his hand on his gun, according to Catena, two more police officers soon arrived and stood nearby with their hands on their guns in case there was trouble - from the dance instructor.  But there was no trouble.  They wrote the summons and now the dance instructor has to face the bar of justice for her ... crime.

Source: WABC 27 September 2005 © Associated Press all rights reserved

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