A mom has been convicted of second-degree child abuse for helping her husband hurt her kids. Should she have been acquitted because she was abused too?
The details of Deborah Warren's case are pretty disturbing. According to Lansing Noise, her husband, Michael Warren, abused her teenage son by hitting and kicking him, keeping him awake for days, and slamming his head in a doorframe. He also forced her six-year-old daughter "to stand and hold milk jugs filled with water in each hand. Plastic strapping was attached to the jugs and wrapped around her neck. If she lowered the jugs, the plastic would choke her." Deborah Warren helped her husband by suggesting they wrap towels around the child's neck so the abuse wouldn't leave marks. She also admitted to punching her two-year-old in the face — the offense for which she was ultimately convicted.
Warren received a one-year suspended jail sentence, which she won't have to serve if she completes three years of probation. During those years, she's not allowed to see her youngest two kids, or take care of anybody under 17. She also has to "complete a domestic violence and healthy relationship skills program."
Warren's defense attorney said, "Because of the abuse she was enduring, sometimes she did things at the behest of Michael Warren, even if she didn't want to. She regrets every moment of it." Warren also said that she was afraid her husband would kill her and her children if they tried to leave. Clearly Warren was a victim in this case as well — so should she have been charged at all? At what point does child abuse committed at an abusive partner's behest become that abusive partner's fault?
It's hard to get away from the fact that Deborah Warren punched her two-year-old in the face. And as much as abusive people can be manipulative, it does seem appropriate that she take responsibility for abuse in which she actively participated. Her sentence seems appropriate, as does the fact that she'll be able to avoid jail time if she meets the conditions of her probation. I'm more concerned about Michael Warren's sentence — he could be out in as little as three years, and at the time of his trial, he was already living with another woman who had no knowledge of his history. She had four children.
Lansing Woman Sentenced In Child Abuse Case [Lansing State Journal]
Lansing Woman Charged With Torture Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse [Lansing Noise]
Williamston Family Unaware Of Child Abuse Case [Lansing State Journal]
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