Mom Jailed for Trusting a Stranger to Drive Her Son, 9

Readers — Is it a crime for parents to trust strangers?  Apparently, it is:

A mom in suburban Atlanta was looking for a way to get her son to Florida to visit his grandma. So she hired a driver she found on Craigslist advertising a rideshare.

When the driver learned his intended co-pilot was only 9 years old, he called the cops and the mom was arrested. Now she’s in jail, unable to care for her son, for the crime of failing to supervise her son closely enough. Seems totally counter-productive, doesn’t it?

You can read the rest of my post here, on the Reason blog. As for trust being criminalized, that’s a trend that warrants some discussion.  When we have a society that looks suspiciously at any adults around kids not their own, we get things like intensive background checks for parent school volunteers, and schools prohibiting voters on Election Day. This reflexive distrust turns us into a sort of modern day East Germany, where we can’t help and support each other, because we aren’t allowed to.

If I trust someone with my kids, why is it up to anyone else to question that? – L.

A mom wanted to get her son to grandma in Sarasota, FL. Now the mom's in jail.

A mom wanted to get her son to grandma in Sarasota, FL. Now the mom’s in jail.

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154 Responses to Mom Jailed for Trusting a Stranger to Drive Her Son, 9

  1. John June 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Finding a driver on Craiglist advertising a rideshare program to drive your 9-year-old son to Florida is certainly debatable as to whether it’s a wise thing to do BUT goodness, let’s not criminalize it! Even though I am not a parent myself, I’m getting damn sick and tired of our nanny state government criminalizing misjudgements made by parents!

    So because it’s a “stranger” the nanny state assumes the boy would be in danger? What about an attractive 20-year-old female? Nobody would blink an eyelash if a WOMAN like that opted for the same thing but realistically, considering 99% of all adult men are attracted to females rather than young boys, she’d be at far greater risk of being a crime victim than the 9-year-old kid. But I guess coming to that conclusion would mean that I’m sexist. (rolleyes)

  2. Laurambp June 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    “Finding a driver on Craiglist advertising a rideshare program to drive your 9-year-old son to Florida is certainly debatable as to whether it’s a wise thing to do BUT goodness, let’s not criminalize it! Even though I am not a parent myself, I’m getting damn sick and tired of our nanny state government criminalizing misjudgements made by parents!”

    Exactly. I’m convinced that the driver called out of fear that this was some sort of set-up, that if he would have taken the kid to Sarasota, then cops would be waiting there to arrest him as a sex offender. Sad, really, that our society tries to convince us that no one can be trusted.

    I don’t understand why he couldn’t just say no to the mother for liability purposes and leave it at that.

  3. Donna June 18, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Sorry, I have to disagree on this one. This wasn’t a casual encounter on the street. This was a 600 mile trek across state lines. A little more diligence was required. I don’t think she needed to do a criminal background check, but she should have at least met the man so that she could get a feel for him before she sent her kid off with him for many hours.

  4. anonymous mom June 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    @Laura, I had the same thought. I’m guessing he called the police because he was afraid this was a set-up and he was going to be arrested (not an irrational thought, given the way the police operate now). If he had actually taken the child over state lines, he probably could have been, parental permission or not.

    Do I think this is a wise choice? No. But, I’m not sure how or why it’s breaking the law. A person was offering a transportation service, and she wanted to take them up on the offer. Why is it any fundamentally different than a parent hiring a limo or taxi to drive a 9yo somewhere? Rideshare services are becoming increasingly popular, and certainly some people are going to want to utilize them to get minors too young to drive themselves places they need to go. If that’s going to be a criminal offense, that should be clarified in the law.

  5. Peter Brülls June 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Actually, interpersonal help was big in East Gerrmany, as long as one stayed clear of politics.

    There’s a reason why the saying is that in the East Bloc you could think what you wanted if you said what everyone else said, but in the US you were free to say what you wanted as long as you thought what everyone else thinks. (Yes, I know that this is a gross exaggeration. But considering the recent trends in most Western nations it has a kernel of truth.)

  6. Dhewco June 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    Well, I believe it is a lapse in judgment, not necessarily a criminal one. I might have called the cops, if I hadn’t been on this board and know how they can have a tendency to charge people rather than educate them.

    I would have called the cops, if the women had seemed determined to find someone on craigslist to take him. There’s worst-first thinking and then there’s the tendency to engage in activity that makes worst-first more likely to happen.

  7. delurking June 18, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    I’m sorry, how is finding a driver on Craisglist debatable? Do people not use Craigslist to advertise for nannies? Do nannies not advertise their services on Craisgslist? Of course they do.
    Was it illegal for the mother to have the babysitter drive the child to the drop-off point, or was that OK? The babysitter was a stranger before they met, wasn’t he/she?

    And as for a background check, here:
    http://justice.fultoncountyga.gov/PASupCrtCM/default.aspx

    Do a search by name and you’ll know if the person was in court in that county for any reason, ever. Google is pretty good, too. We have no idea if she spoke with him or not, or if she did her own background check.

  8. lollipoplover June 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    What a douche this driver was to call the police on mom.

    This one is also counterproductive:
    http://www.examiner.com/article/woman-dies-prison-impoverished-mom-of-7-dies-over-truancy-fines

    Truancy fines. And why is the mom in prison and not the dad? I don’t understand why jailing moms for making poor decisions or just being poor is ever going to help the children.

  9. delurking June 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Hey, look! An entire section on Craigslist Atlanta with childcare classifieds!

    http://atlanta.craigslist.org/kid/

    And guess what, it is under the same section, “community”, as rideshare!

  10. John June 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    @Donna….I’m not sure that meeting the driver would have provided any reassurance. Just because a person is a clean cut professional with no prior criminal convictions does not disqualify him from being a weirdo who cannot be trusted around kids and just because a person has long hair tied back into a pony tail with a beard and mustache does not mean that he IS a weirdo who cannot be trusted around kids.

    Like I say, it is debatable on whether or not this was a prudent thing to do BUT either way, this should not make the mother a criminal!

  11. John June 18, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    @delurking….you bring up some good points.

  12. brian June 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Not only this but the ad clearly didn’t say it was a 9 year old (hence the issue when he arrived and saw the kid). So its not like the ad would attract people looking to harm children.

    This is an asinine story. Hopefully the charges are thrown out and the police pay compensation for the wrongful arrest.

  13. John June 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    I certainly hope the Judge throws this case out. But I’m not holding my breath.

  14. SOA June 18, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I am not trusting enough to trust a stranger to drive my kids across the country. I would however trust a friend or family member or neighbor I have known for a good period of time. I used to go on vacation with my friends to places 10 hours away . My parents did not have a problem with it. They sent me alone on many dance trips too with just my dance teachers as my chaperones.

    However, what law did she technically break? Child endangerment? But nothing happened. It would only be dangerous if the person that reported her was dangerous. So this will probably be an interesting court trial. Like the guy is going to be cross examined and be like “So are you a dangerous man and that is why you called the cops on her for putting her child with a dangerous man?”

  15. Youthier June 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Considering there’s a category on here called “Eek! A Man!” I don’t find it difficult to believe this guy freaked out about transporting a minor across state lines. Wasn’t there recently a story about an arrest made when two male dance instructors traveled with their female teen student?

    Did he have to call the police? Probably not but I can’t blame the guy for covering his ass.

  16. Donna June 18, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    John – I said meet the person, not just look at a picture. Talking to someone in person, for even just a few minutes, gives you a good gauge on whether they are creepy or not. Our gut reactions to people are often pretty good, not infallible, but pretty good. At least mine is anyway.

    I going to bet that nobody here would hire an employee based solely on the first resume that hit your desk without even talking to the person first. Why not? It would certainly streamline the hiring process. You should just trust that they can do the job if they took the time to send a resume.

    There is nothing wrong with hiring someone from Craigslist. There is nothing wrong with hiring someone from Craigslist to drive your child to Florida. There is something negligent about not even meeting the person first. That isn’t trust. Trust requires some interaction with a person to gauge trustworthiness. That is just not caring.

  17. Warren June 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    First of all I doubt that sexual predators advertise for ride shares on craigslist. Maybe on Criminal Minds, but not in real life.
    Secondly 9 is not helpless.

  18. Michelle June 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I wouldn’t do this, but I also haven’t ever hired someone that I didn’t previously know to babysit – but I sure wouldn’t think it odd when other people do. People trust their kids with strangers all the time. And, shockingly, it’s usually just fine.

    Actually, come to think of it, I’ve been that stranger. Not all the parents who hired me to babysit when I was a teenager were people I knew previously. I also taught preschool, and I’d never met any of those parents before.

  19. Michelle June 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Donna, how do you know that the mom never met him? I don’t see that in the original article.

  20. SKL June 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m trying to imagine how this happened. Maybe the driver knew that it is considered kidnapping to take someone else’s kids across state lines, and so he checked with the cops, and the cops overreacted. Or maybe there was something fishy about whether the kid’s dad was on board with the move.

    Do we know that the mom never met this man, never checked him out in any way (or planned to)? And if that is the case, how different is this from sending your kid unaccompanied on a plane (with supervision from strangers), or sending your kid on a bus to camp? Or to school, for that matter? How about leaving a kid in the hospital overnight? How many parents do a background check before they do any of these things?

    I never did a background check on my kids’ nanny or anyone else I’ve entrusted my kids to. I trusted my gut, even when my kids were too young to tell me if something bad happened.

    Do we know anything about the boy and how equipped he was to handle this situation? Some nine-year-old boys are pretty big, some are blackbelts, many have a cell phone or other way to make an emergency call. Many have life experience to enable them to pursue plan B if plan A ran into problems.

    I would be interested to know what law was allegedly broken here.

  21. Donna June 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Michelle, it was pretty clear to me in the wording of the original article that there was no face-to-face contact with the driver, but from another article:

    “At no time did accused get any information about this stranger and only communicated by text messages,” the warrant states. “Accused didn’t even know the last name of the stranger but only knew him as ‘Eric.’”

    But it does appear that they weren’t traveling as far as I thought. I thought the kid was also going to Florida, but it appears that he was only going to Macon. That is only about an hour and half drive. While I can still see reason to question her judgment, sending your kid on an hour and a half drive with a stranger is considerably different than sending your kid on a 9 hour, interstate drive with a stranger.

  22. anonymous mom June 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    In this case, I don’t think we can say that the driver was necessarily a douche for calling the police. From the story, the chronology is unclear. It does seem pretty clear that this mother, in whatever kind of interactions she had with this guy to set up the ride, did not bother to inform him he’d be driving a 9yo. It’s possible that the babysitter just dropped off the child, and suddenly this guy was stuck with a 9yo whom he wasn’t expecting and for very good reasons did not want to transport across state lines. If the babysitter wasn’t there for him to just hand the kid right back over to, I can see why calling the police might have seemed like the only option that wasn’t going to get *him* arrested.

    The fact that he was surprised it was a child and that the mom hadn’t told him in advance does make it seem like this is not the world’s most together, responsible person. She might in fact be a horrible, negligent mom. And, the guy might have been right to call the police, given the alternatives available to him. I just don’t believe in jailing people unless they truly pose a danger to society–there are other alternatives available for other people–and that’s the part where I take issue with how this was handled.

    It also seems like yet another case of an interaction that takes place online being treated as more serious than one that takes place otherwise, legally. If the mother had looked in the yellow pages for a person offering transportation services, and had simply called and made arrangements for her child, would she have been arrested? Why is that situation so much different? I don’t like the internet being treated as if things that take place on it are fundamentally different and more dangerous than things that take place offline. A 22 year old guy hits on a 15 year old in the mall, and it might be, at absolutely worst, an attempted 4th degree sex crime; the same guy hits on an undercover officer pretending to be a 15yo online, and suddenly he’s committed a very serious felony sex offense. A student says something nasty to another student in school, and at worst they might be faced with some school disciplinary sanctions around bullying; they do it online, and they could be charged with cyberterrorism. We need to stop treating online behaviors as somehow more serious and more dangerous than their real-life counterparts.

  23. E June 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Why are people comparing this to locating a sitter/nanny on Craigslist. I don’t think people use that as the ONLY step in the process do they?

    If you read the article linked, then read the actual AJC article (linked in huffpost), you’ll see the mother did NONE of those things. She didn’t even know the driver’s last name, she didn’t speak to him (only via texts), and she did not go with the babysitter to meet the driver. She also told the babysitter that the driver was a family friend (a lie).

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/cops-mom-hired-craigslist-stranger-to-get-son-to-g/ngMhn/

    The mother was willingly negligent.

  24. BL June 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    @lollipoplover
    “And why is the mom in prison and not the dad?”

    She had custody and he didn’t?

  25. E June 18, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Oh, and the last part of the article says this:

    “Her bond was set at $1,000, but she remained in jail Tuesday for allegedly not appearing in court in an unrelated case, jail records show.”

    I understand that sometimes the details aren’t available but in this case..they were.

  26. Donna June 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    anonymous mom –

    That does not appear to be the facts at all. It appears that mom answered the ad and at some point during their text communications explained that the passenger was only 9. The man then called the police. The man never even went to the drop-off site. An undercover police officer did.

    This has nothing to do with online activity. It has to do with essentially hiring a babysitter for your child and never meeting him or knowing anything about him other than his name is Eric. I would think her equally negligent if she just picked a random name out of the phone book and asked him to give her child a ride (at least there she has a last name) or answered a ride share ad in the newspaper.

  27. E June 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    @SKL, you are comparing a complete stranger on the internet to the requirements and processes of a hospital or school? Of course, those institutions can’t prevent anything bad from ever happening, but they DO require background checks (and supervision) on behalf of their patrons.

  28. SKL June 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Background checks are a recent thing. In younger generations there were no background checks for camp counselors etc. It is not the strangest thing in the world to trust a 9yo boy with an unfamiliar man for a short period of time.

    I assume she had some info on the man in the unlikely event that the child never arrived at his destination and she needed to sic the cops on him. And again, a 9yo boy is not a defenseless baby. And by the way, Georgia is right next to Florida, it’s not like going from El Salvador to Texas. :/

    One thing to note here is that he didn’t come looking for a young boy to travel with – that would merit a second look. He was just a guy planning a trip and trying to save some money. There was no significant chance that he was a pedophile or had other risk factors as far as a 9yo boy is concerned.

    I agree with those who said they don’t blame him for calling the cops, though, to protect himself in case there was something funny going on – child trafficking or non-custodial parent kidnapping or who knows what.

  29. Warren June 18, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    Would any of you send your 9 yr old across town in a taxi? Do you know the name of the driver, do you do a background check on the driver?

    I have had my kids in cabs many times. Starting at the age of 5.

  30. SOA June 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Taxis are licensed most of the time which means there is a series of checks and balances at least. You know that if a taxi driver kept having his fares come up missing persons later that someone would notice. Some random dude not so much. So it is not fair to really compare them. But even with taxis when we left the country for Mexico and Jamaica we were told not to get into any unmarked taxis and have the resort call one for us from a trusted company since that is how tourists often got kidnapped.

    I would not call the cops if I was the guy in question but I would decline the offer once I found out it was a 9 year old. For liability and CYA reasons. But I would do it for someone I knew pretty well.

  31. Liz June 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    I have to say, I’m on the side of the driver here. It’s one thing to send your kid with a carpool, or with a hired professional driver (taxi service), and completely different to send a minor with a stranger on a long car ride with no warning to the driver. What would happen if they were involved in an accident? He couldn’t give authorization for medical treatment and wouldn’t even have paperwork from a custodial parent. I leave written authorization for my *catsitter* when I go out of town, and that’s just for my pets.

  32. Donna June 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    “I assume she had some info on the man in the unlikely event that the child never arrived at his destination and she needed to sic the cops on him.”

    She knew his first name and a cell phone number. That is it.

    “And again, a 9yo boy is not a defenseless baby.”

    Do you really think that your children could fend for themselves if left 300 miles from home in the middle of nowhere (there is a lot of middle of nowhere in Georgia)? Do you know if this kid had money? Cell phone? Had a number he could definitely reach his mother at if something happened? Knew his grandmother’s number? Knew his grandmother’s address?

    Based on this mother’s actions, I’m not convinced that she would have made sure of these things.

    I am also not sure why everyone immediately jumps to pedophile as if that is the ONLY concern in the world that we should ever have for children and if there is not an elevated risk of pedophiles, people are crazy for worrying.

  33. Nicole 2 June 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    The police response should have been simply to explain that it’s not a good idea and try to brainstorm other solutions (such as flying or taking greyhound). I doubt the person who called did so in an attempt to get her arrested, it just sounds like the police massively overreacted.

  34. E June 18, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Yeah, I’m not getting the comparisons that don’t apply. He’s not a cab driver, he’s not going to a place of business, it’s some guy on the internet. As an adult, I’d use a series of things to decide if I wanted to ride with this guy. At minimum, I’d want to speak to him AND see him face to face. The Mom did neither of those things. We don’t know if there was anything else that gave the driver a bad feeling about the mom.

    Moreover, she lied to her sitter that it was a friend and because of this, even the sitter didn’t get out to meet the driver. So the only person that would have even spoken to the guy, would have been the 9 year old. That’s not okay — at least to me.

  35. anonymous mom June 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I was basing my opinion off of the Huffpo piece, which was apparently missing a lot of details from the AJC piece.

    From the info in the AJC piece, I don’t know why the driver called the police instead of simply declining.

    I also don’t think the police would have responded the same if it it had been an ad in the paper or a person advertising services in the phone book instead of online.

  36. E June 18, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    That was kind of my point — that when there ARE details available (it’s linked right there from the HuffPo piece that’s linked here and at Reason), why ignore them?

    I think most people would agree that they wouldn’t put their 9 year old in a car with someone they had only texted with, never met, and didn’t plan to meet. Since that’s exactly what the mother did, it seems a really bad example to hold up as evidence of anything.

  37. E June 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    @anon mom…I was referring to the original post, not what you’d written.

  38. Donna June 18, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    “I also don’t think the police would have responded the same if it it had been an ad in the paper or a person advertising services in the phone book instead of online.”

    Under what theory? From the quotes from the arrest warrant and the police officer’s comments, their issue with this is exactly what E and I are saying – she didn’t bother to even meet this person or know anything other than his name is Eric – and not that she found him on the internet. Absolutely nothing that I’ve read about this case, has indicated that Craigslist was the overriding factor here.

  39. E June 18, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    Right, craigslist is an online classified ad. I don’t imagine anyone (seeking a ride share) would spend the money to put it a newspaper ad these days, but aren’t those online as well now?

    As far as advertising “services” in a phone book, then it’s not the same situation anyway. No one does that unless they are conducting an ongoing business.

    Even with the additional details, it’s still hard to know why exactly the guy called the police. We don’t know what his specific concern was, we don’t know how the Mom presented the situation. Maybe he knew she wasn’t even going to be there to drop him off. Maybe just maybe, he was concerned for the kid. /shrug

  40. A Dad June 18, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Was she arrested for arranging the travel or for allegedly not appearing in court in an unrelated case.

    Not clear on exactly what she was arrested for.

    The driver reporting the mother was has the police found that she had outstanding warrants and maybe she was taken in for these and not arranging the travel (???)

  41. Rae June 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    The boy was going from Marietta, GA to Macon, GA. about 100 miles.

    There was no crossing of state lines… I think her judgement was terrible, don’t get me wrong. However, she was looking to get her kid a 2 hour ride, not several hundred miles.

    Still, I’m think i would have probably just said “no, not comfortable doing that, maybe try x y or z….”, I would not have called the cops.

  42. Andrea June 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Nicole 2 made a good point — why don’t the police brainstorm other solutions in these situations? Why are their only options arrest or violence these days?

    I think the whole Craigslist driver for a 9-year-old sounds like an unwise idea, but some helpful advice would be the thing to improve the family’s situation. Arrest and all the accompanying financial and legal obligations make that 9-year -old’s life much, much worse.

  43. Andy June 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    I wish people would stop using Eastern Germany or Communist Russia or Nazi for that matter every time they find something going too far. Just because bad things happened and this is bad thing too does not mean those things are the same at all.

    Just about the only thing the Eastern Germany might have a problem with would be the payment. Communists liked to pretend that communist countries have even less criminality that they had and that we are living in safe paradise (except American threat). People distrusted each other about a lot of things, but random criminal acts were not what they feared.

    People in Eastern Germany were expected and encouraged to help each other in politically insignificant matters.

  44. Warren June 18, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    How jaded and whipped everyone has become. It is embarassing to be part of a world where this even has to be discussed.

    If I had come across this in the driver’s shoes, finding a single parent trying to get their kid to grandpa’s? I would not have called the cops. I would have told the mom to save her money, and don’t worry I’ll get little so and so there safe and sound.

  45. Andy June 18, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    I do not think 9 years old can protect himself against adult. That being said, I think people consistently overestimate how good they can judge strangers after small talk. You can find whether that person has quirk or is clean, but in most cases, we are unable to determine whether he is dangerous. Isnt it the case that psychopaths and often very charismatic and that plenty of (including serial) killers were you-would-never-guess-nice-people?

    Plus, mom had his phone number and if she would been there where the kid would enter the car, she would know his face and could write down his license plates. How hard would it be to find him if he would harmed the boy?

    I think that the biggest dangers was that the guy would be crappy driver or someone tired after overnight work and thus unfit for long drive.

  46. SKL June 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Yeah, that really isn’t a “long drive,” the kid is 9, I really don’t see what the big deal is.

    I have my kids in different camps with complete strangers all day long, all summer long. And they are 7yo girls. I just don’t assume that everyone is out to hurt children.

    In fact, I have put out a general request to some people to look for drivers who would be willing to take my kids from one city to another on days when they have different morning and afternoon camps. People I don’t even know yet. I guess I am just too trusting.

    I do understand why lots of people would not make this mom’s choice themselves. What I find disturbing is this: it is illegal to NOT be scared of strangers? This is really a new one on me.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a legal duty to vet your kids’ companions and caregivers. I mean, yeah, if you know your boyfriend is raping your kid, and you let it go on, that’s one thing, but just because you trust someone with your kid, you’re a criminal?

    This could be a slippery slope. Is it illegal to hire a babysitter without doing a background check? Is it illegal to let your kid go for a sleepover with someone whose life history you don’t know? Will they soon require parents to demand to see the child care license of every caregiver before dropping their kids off? And if something happens on someone else’s watch, does the parent get charged for not being vigilant enough?

  47. SKL June 18, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    Will the “powers that be” now decide how long and how well you have to know a person before s/he can be alone with your kid?

  48. CrazyCatLady June 18, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    I am not sure. The last time my mother and sister rode Greyhound, the bus was full of junkies and drunks. They ended up flying back rather than riding the bus. Riding with a guy who is responsible enough to have his own car and insurance…a BIG step up.

    And…maybe there is more to the story. It sounded like she was a bit desperate to get him out of there. Maybe she didn’t want to pay the babysitter any more than she had to. It does sound like she had other fees that needed to be paid, from not so wise choices. Maybe she didn’t want to have a kid in the first place and was making choices that were not so great based on that. (Yes, I have known a few that acted that way.) Who knows. I feel sorry for the kid, and I hope that grandparents whom he was going to visit have been able to arrange for him to live with him at least until this gets settle.

  49. SKL June 18, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    Another thing. This reaction seems to assume that kids are more safe with people the parent “knows” than with people the parent doesn’t “know.” This is statistically backwards. Statistically that kid would be in more danger if the mom found a relative to drive him down there. And yet the law appears to be forcing parents in that direction.

  50. Donna June 18, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    Many people already think we are negligent parents. If I knew Free Range Kids from only this thread, I’d think free range parents are not worth listening to at all.

    This situation is not a helicopter parent issue. I don’t know ANY parent who would do this – helicopter, free range, whatever. When we start supporting ideas that are so far beyond even lax parenting, we start to look like the negligent parents that so many already want to believe that we are. Why should they listen to you about the safety of leaving a kid in the car for 5 minutes when you are also defending blindly handing over your kid for hours to some random stranger from a classified ad that you’ve never met?

    This is not the same as sending your kid to camp where s/he is going to be cared for by counselors who, while unknown to you, have been vetted by a reputable camp that actually wishes to stay in business beyond one season. (And by vetted I simply mean interviews, reference checks, training, supervision, firing of bad employees and not criminal background checks). This is much closer to telling your babysitter to just give your child to the first person they pass on the street.

  51. J.T. Wenting June 18, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    “Exactly. I’m convinced that the driver called out of fear that this was some sort of set-up, that if he would have taken the kid to Sarasota, then cops would be waiting there to arrest him as a sex offender. Sad, really, that our society tries to convince us that no one can be trusted.”

    That’s exactly it.

    And yes, given the number of such “sting” operations it’s a good bet when you stumble across such a setting to assume it is one.

    And even if not, it seems to be the purpose of government to criminalise as much as possible, confiscate as many children as possible from their parents so they can be molded into nice little drones, so it’s no surprise the police overreacted and now no doubt CPS will get involved and the child placed in “custody”, the parents losing all rights to see him, probably up to getting a restraining order placed on them barring them from being within 10 miles of whereever the child is until he’s 18 or 21.

  52. J.T. Wenting June 18, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

    “Will the “powers that be” now decide how long and how well you have to know a person before s/he can be alone with your kid?”

    That’s been decided ages ago:
    children are only safe with parents, government workers, government licensed teachers and healthcare professionals, and marginally safe with grandparents.

    Everyone else is a child molester/abductor, especially if male.

  53. K.H. June 19, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    “Modern-day East Germany”? My husband grew up in East Germany. At age 12 his parents allowed him to ride his bike 30+ miles to his grandparents house. ALONE.

    He and his friends were allowed to roam the village, go ice skating alone on the flood plain, go to the shops… and no one blinked an eye.

    His parents may have thought their phones were tapped, but they had absolute faith that their neighbors would help if he needed it.

  54. K.H. June 19, 2014 at 2:05 am #

    OH the irony.

  55. no rest for the weary June 19, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    Good Lord, I can’t imagine why this whole thing would be against the law.

    If the boy had ended up being driven by the Craigslist guy, and had subsequently come to harm at the hands of the Craigslist guy, would MOM be charged with a crime?

    To me, that’s kind of like blaming a woman who gets raped because she wore a mini-skirt and went walking alone at night. The person who makes the assault is the one who is responsible for their actions of assault. No one can “make” you sexually violent.

    And to me, this entrusting of the driver was, well, Mom’s choice. And if the kid got assaulted by the driver, then that would be the driver’s crime, not Mom’s.

    But if the ride never even took place, we’re saying Mom did something “wrong” just because none of us would necessarily do it?

    There is not one single thing that any human being does that I myself am not capable of doing, given the proper circumstances. And I’m talking about EVERYTHING. Including hiring a guy I’ve never personally met from Craigslist to drive my 9-year-old 100 miles.

    In my current circumstances, I don’t have occasion to do it, but I can totally imagine circumstances where I would, because I’m a creative thinker, and, I guess I’m trying to cultivate compassion in my own soul. So when I say someone does something “stupid,” I delude myself into thinking that I am separate from that person. In truth, we are not so separate.

    Frankly, I don’t really care that this woman did what she did. And if the kid had come to harm, well, I would have chalked that up to bad luck, since 99.9% of the people in this world, EVEN THOSE WHO SHARE RIDES VIA CRAIGSLIST, are not likely to harm you.

  56. no rest for the weary June 19, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    And for those claiming that a discussion of this issue doesn’t paint a very palatable picture of “Free Range” aficionados, or even qualify as something to discuss in this forum:

    In 1973, I’m pretty sure it was illegal to sodomize a child. No one ever advocated for children to be penetrated and raped. Perhaps folks weren’t looking too hard for the warning signs, and many, many kids suffered without speaking up or being detected (or believed if they did speak up), but even back then, in the “bad old days,” it was a crime.

    However, in 1973, what this mother did would never have been considered a crime. And I mean never. If there had been an ad in the newspaper, and there’d been correspondence via mail or telephone, and the plan had been made, I seriously doubt the driver would have called police.

    If the driver had called police, the police very likely would have said, “Huh, well, did you get your money? Do you have a complaint?”

    Now. Was it because back in 1973 people were devoid of understanding of how to care for children? Was it because it was culturally normal to share rides? In 1973, kids were told not to take rides that were offered to them by strangers, but you can bet if there’d been money exchanged and a parent had arranged it beforehand, well, the kid would go, and it might be awkward, but it wouldn’t be a huge hairy deal.

    Unless the child was sodomized. And even in 1973, THAT would have been a crime.

    What I imagine is being brought to light here, by posting this story in this context, is that parents are being charged with crimes when no harm has come to the child, and often before the “thing” that everyone deems so “risky and irresponsible” has even happened. But who decides it’s risky? Every article I see online about this case is heavily slanted to judge this mother, to condemn her reasoning. I say it’s not unreasonable to arrange a ride for your kid, and figure most people are nice people.

    That’s the way it used to be. People weren’t getting arrested for trusting people.

    You’d get arrested for prostituting your child, but not for arranging a ride for them.

    Why was this woman arrested? For “bad parenting.” Who are we, really, to judge what is “good” and “bad” parenting, when the child is not harmed? We scream bloody murder on this site when people judge us for taking risks that we are willing to take with our kids… call us in to the cops, get us investigated for things that are not harmful to anyone, just because people have become hysterically fearful of each other.

    I refuse to judge this woman. And I refuse to label her decision as anything other than HER DECISION.

    I guess that’s why I think this discussion belongs on the FRK site.

  57. MichaelF June 19, 2014 at 4:48 am #

    This could so easily fall down the steep slope of “criminalizing bad parenting decisions” when most of us know that bad parenting decisions are all part of the job.

  58. JJ June 19, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I blame Amtrak. Why do we have a publicly-funded railroad system that won’t take unaccompanied travelers under 13?

  59. K June 19, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    9 year-olds are only allowed a small amount of unsupervised time according to guidelines, so even if this were a different form of transportation like a plane or bus it wouldn’t go over with authorities. When I was 7 I flew alone and was fine afterwards. One of the many rights that has been taken away. The laws are vague and broad also, so if someone disapproves it’s wrong and the parent’s have little defense.

  60. Jill June 19, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    Another child saved from being in the commpany of a strange man. Well done. We can only hope that he’s now in foster care, where nothing bad ever happens.

  61. K June 19, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    According to an article titled, “Supervisory Neglect and Risk of Harm. Evidence from the Canadian Child Welfare System” 96% of the supervisory neglect cases do not involve physical harm, just risk. Statistics are probably similar in the United States. Risk is dangerous with CPS.

  62. E June 19, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    I have difficulty chalking this up to a “parenting decision”…the only thing she decided was that a stranger named Eric could take her kid. She didn’t even do the minimum (meeting him) that she’d do herself if she was the one riding with him.

    It’s parenting if there are zero reasonable requirements to “parent”.

  63. Warren June 19, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    So noone here has ever shared a trip, hitchhiked or picked up a hitchhiker.
    I am too lazy to do so, but if we went back over previous stories and posts, I would bet that people on here blasting the mom, have in the past blasted those for being against strangers offering a ride to kids, in certain conditions.

  64. E June 19, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    @Warren, as a 9 year old, my parents never sent me off to drive with a complete stranger without ever meeting them, no. I would never do that with my child either.

    My older sister did a fair bit of hitchhiking in the 70s. My parents decided that they should return the favor and picked up a couple on the side of the road (I was with them as a child). The got in the car with a six pack of beer and proceeded to consume it until they were dropped off. It wasn’t exactly the experience that my parents had hoped for (with their little kid in the car to boot). Not everyone has the same standards/sensibilities as you.

    Again, as an adult, at minimum you’d be meeting the individual you planned to ride with (and be able to evaluate things, like whether the person appeared sober and alert) before getting in their car.

    It doesn’t help the Mom’s rep that she had an outstanding legal situation and a failure to appear on it.

  65. Puzzled June 19, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    >Moreover, she lied to her sitter that it was a friend and >because of this, even the sitter didn’t get out to meet the >driver. So the only person that would have even spoken to >the guy, would have been the 9 year old. That’s not okay — >at least to me.

    Me neither. But it is apparently okay with this family – and it’s not okay with me to kidnap (‘arrest’) the woman for this act.

    The “at least to me” is key here.

    But, more importantly – clearly there’s no law specifically against finding a driver on Craigslist, texting without meeting him, and asking him to drive your child. This then needs to be prosecuted under a more general law. Where will that precedent lead?

    Suppose I decide to send my child cross-country with an adult I’ve known for years – and they assault my child. Will this case provide a precedent for prosecuting me?

  66. Puzzled June 19, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    I forgot to mention, but I also am pretty amazed at all the responses mentioning that she had ‘outstanding legal issues.’ Last I checked, 1/9 Americans were involved in the CJ system in one way or another. It’s incredibly easy to have outstanding warrants and not even know about it (by the way, guess which county has the most outstanding warrants? Hint – it’s supposedly run by the most ‘law and order’ sheriff in the country.) As this website has shown numerous times, it’s not particularly hard to get caught up in the system. There’s no reason to stigmatize.

  67. delurking June 19, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    So, if your babysitter cancels at the last minute and you go on craigslist to find another babysitter, are you a criminal?

  68. Dirk June 19, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I support the free range kids idea. However, I have to say that far too often the articles on this website only report what they want to report. The problem here is not that the mother found a ride-share. The problem is in what she didn’t do.

    The reason this woman is in trouble is A) She only communicated with the individual on craigslist via text messages. B) She never even asked him his last name or for any other personal information. C) She did not meet him prior or at the time. D) She had a babysitter bring the child to a gas station where the babysitter was to give the child to the person from craigslist. E) The mother had lied to the babysitter stating the person from craigslist was a friend and that he was only taking the child to a nearby destination, Macon GA, and not on an 8 hour trip to Florida.

    To sum up this mother found an unknown person on the internet, never found out his last name or where he lived or why he was going to Florida, gave her kid to a babysitter and told the babysitter to bring the kid to a gas station and give him to her “friend,” the mother also lied to the babysitter about knowing the driver and that the kid was only going on a 1 hour car ride to nearby city, this man was then expected to drive a 9 year old on an 8 hour trip? The mother made a series of mistakes that are more than sub-optimal parenting choices. Was it the worst thing she could have done? No. But she didn’t even do the most basic things right. It was the equivalent to walking into a gas station parking lot and putting a sign on the kid saying take me to Florida.

    Look, she could have done a ride-share, I am 100 percent certain, but she didn’t. She dumped her kid off on a man she knew only as Eric who she never even met or heard talk over the phone.

    Also, just FYI, children 8 and up can ride Greyhound buses alone (although only on trips less than 5 hours long).

  69. E June 19, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    I guess this is one where people just feel differently. I wouldn’t hire a babysitter via Craigslist and hire them without meeting them, no. No way.

    If I used a single sitter system for childcare (as opposed to a business with built-in coverage for absences), I would already have a back up system with someone I trusted/knew or I would have made sure I myself could call in sick or work from home. When I was a working mom of small kids that went to school/daycare, if they were too sick for school, I took sick or vacation time, I didn’t hire a complete stranger to look after them.

    As far as legal issues? Without knowing what they were there is no way to judge that she ‘just didn’t know’ is there? So sure, I could say it doesn’t help her rep, and you could say it was just another innocent situation. Who knows.

    I’m not sure I’m understanding the “is it illegal to hire a _____ from craigslist, if not she shouldn’t have been charged”. Are people suggesting that any charges related to neglect should not be laws? Because I presume that there is some sort of line that parents/guardians can cross that would make you think they were being neglectful. I understand that some of you don’t think *this* was neglect, but I can only presume you don’t think that every parent choice unable to be perceived as neglect, simply because it was made by a parent.

  70. Donna June 19, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    “So noone here has ever shared a trip, hitchhiked or picked up a hitchhiker.”

    Not at 9!!!

    And certainly never with no say in the matter, even as an adult. I haven’t seen a single comment (admittedly I haven’t read all of them either) expressing the slightest concern as to the child’s point of view in all of this? He didn’t set up this little road trip. His mother did. Could be that he loved the idea. Could be that he was totally freaked out about it and didn’t want to go. I know that my kid and the vast majority of her friends would fall into the latter category. I can name a few I know who would think it great fun. Why is everyone assuming that this kid falls into the latter category? There are plenty of crappy, self-absorbed parents out there who think only about what they want and give no concern to their child’s wants. Nothing I’ve read about this scenario convinces me that the child had a burning desire to go see grandma and was willing to get there by any means possible.

  71. E June 19, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    @Dirk, I agree with what you said, but unless I’m mistaken, the kid was *only* going to Macon, as that is where his Grandparents live. I have no idea how that was going to offset the costs of they guy’s much longer drive to FL, or if the Mom even told the guy he’d be dropping the kid off in Macon.

    Even with the add’l details, it’s tough to know a lot. We don’t know if there were other things that made the driver uncomfortable with how the child was being managed or if he was afraid of getting in trouble himself (set up) or if he’s a jerk for calling the police instead of saying “no thanks”.

    Depending on all that, you might say that the police over-reached with the charges, but even if you did, the mother’s actions were NOT free range (unless a Free Range tenet is trust everyone sight unseen)…they were lazy. Those are 2 different things.

  72. Donna June 19, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    “So, if your babysitter cancels at the last minute and you go on craigslist to find another babysitter, are you a criminal?”

    My answer would be probably yes if you did nothing more than read an ad, text the person an address to come to and wasn’t even home when the person showed up.

    I’m not sure why some insist on making this about it being a crime to use Craigslist. Craigslist is not the issue. If this mother had found a ride share on Craigslist, met with him to discuss the situation, bothered to gather any information about him whatsoever, drove to the drop-off herself, etc there would be no issue here. She did none of those things.

  73. Donna June 19, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    “However, in 1973, what this mother did would never have been considered a crime.”

    I can’t think of a single parent that I knew in 1973 who would have done this. Even in the free range 70s parenting had some standards. We don’t know whether it would have been considered a crime or not – the rather vague laws on child neglect haven’t changed much in the intervening years – because it wasn’t done.

    Further, why exactly is what was considered a crime in 1973 a barometer of what should be (a) a crime today, and (b) considered responsible parenting? Raping your wife wasn’t a crime in 1973, but I think that most of us agree that this is a positive change in the law. Beating your wife may have technically been a crime in 1973, but it was an almost completely ignored one. Even if police were called, they considered it a “family matter” and arrested nobody. Same with beating (I don’t mean spanking, but beating) your children.

    On the other side of the coin, consensual sex between same sex partners was a crime in 1973. Adultery was actually prosecuted in some states. Abortion was a crime for some of 1973. We weren’t too many years out from interracial marriage being a crime and it being illegal to prescribe birth control to unmarried women.

  74. delurking June 19, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    How many text messages does it take before you’ve communicated enough with somebody for it not to be criminal to leave your kids with them?

    To those who point to the AJC article, note that only the police side was given. We don’t know the content of the texts, and the accusation that she lied to her babysitter is just that; it sounds more like an offhand comment to me. Clearly, there was enough texting that the driver knew what the plan was and was able to hand off the phone to the police for the police to set up a sting operation. An undercover officer posed as the driver in order to set up the drop-off, and met the babysitter/son at the RaceTrac. This is pretty ridiculous.

  75. Skl June 19, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    We do not know why she did this or what her other options were.

    I also do not see how being taken by the cops was better than being driven to Granny by a guy he did not know yet.

    I think a lot of the reaction is because of the hysteric but now popular belief that everyone needs a background check to be ok with kids. When the fact is that most people are safe with kids, especially kids who can walk and talk.

  76. Donna June 19, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    “I think a lot of the reaction is because of the hysteric but now popular belief that everyone needs a background check to be ok with kids.”

    Nope. I don’ t think everyone needs a background check to be with kids and I still think that this was outrageously bad parenting.

    I think most of the reaction here is under the assumption that all mothers are wonderful without accepting that there are a ton of really crappy parents out there. Self absorbed, don’t really want to be parents parents who manage to keep their kids clothed and fed but don’t do much else for them. Since I can’t think of a single decent parent that I know who would do this and could give you a long list of crappy parents who would without a second thought, I lean toward believing that this woman likely falls into the latter category.

    Does any of this really mean that she should be arrested? Probably not, but I am fine with CPS being involved because there are a lot of red flags here.

  77. E June 19, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    @delurking, you would really do the same with your child as she did with hers? You don’t think actually speaking with the person and meeting them is a superior means of evaluating someone you are trusting to drive your kid? Being in a moving vehicle is constantly brought up here as a riskier event than other things (like leaving a child in the car), and now we are adding a complete unknown to that. Now suddenly there’s no risks in driving and no reason to further evaluate the driver/caretaker of your kid.

    Why did the Mom lie to her own babysitter about the driver being a fried? Was she concerned that the babysitter’s standards were higher than her own?

  78. delurking June 19, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    E,
    No, I wouldn’t. So what? As to weighing the risks compared to just driving, the added risk from this guy doing the driving rather then the mother herself is negligible.

    And, what exactly was that lie to the babysitter? Can you tell me what she actually said? Oh, no, you can’t. You have only the quote from a warrant application written by a police officer who set up a sting operation in order to put this woman in jail. They could have concluded from the fact that this guy contacted them that the kid was going to be safe. They could have just called her and asked her not to send the child with this guy. They could have called child protective services and told them the situation. But no, they set up a sting operation to put her in jail. That is ridiculous.

  79. Donna June 19, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    “We do not know why she did this or what her other options were.”

    At some point, things are just wrong. It doesn’t matter why you did them or what other options were available to you. And we all understand that. While we may sympathize with the parents, we understand that, say, leaving a 3 year old home alone all day while you go to work because you can’t afford a babysitter is wrong.

    That doesn’t mean that I think everyone who does something wrong should be arrested and prosecuted. Take the aforementioned parents of the 3 year old. They clearly should not be allowed to continue to leave a toddler unattended for 9 hours a day, but nothing is served by putting them in jail. Work with the family and get them some resources so that they have another choice.

    This situation strikes me as just per se wrong. What should happen may depend on the why. I can definitely see situations where I think the mother should be prosecuted. I can see some others where she should not. Visiting grandma is not a compelling need to me, but possibly there were some extenuating circumstances as to why the child needed to quickly be out of the house.

  80. E June 19, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    @delurking, ok, it’s hard to have a discussion about something in an article if we’re going to PRESUME the article is incorrect, and the police are in the complete wrong.

    I recall the article about the poor kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time at a party when she was only a DD for friend. We all thought (myself included) it was terrible that the school team disciplined her along with the others. Of course the school can’t comment on students per policy, so they just looked awful. Oh, until the kid admitted she had been at the party and had been drinking. Oops.

    Sometimes the ‘authorities’ aren’t wrong.

    The AJC article indicates that she was in jail because:

    “she remained in jail Tuesday for allegedly not appearing in court in an unrelated case, jail records show.”

    I guess we all have our line at to what is neglect from a criminal standpoint. I’m willing to entertain the idea that this might be. Perhaps given that this was a texting arrangement, perhaps the easiest way to deal with this was in person. Perhaps finding that the mother didn’t even come to meet the driver was what led them to the charges?

    I mean we can do this all day (what does/does not rise to the level of whatever). I’ll agree that the parents with the kids that disobeyed and wandered off only to be escorted home by police and getting charged sounds insanely ridiculous. But this isn’t the same.

  81. Donna June 19, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    delurking –

    Cops love to put words into interested parties’ mouths, but not usually uninterested 3rd parties who will just be presented in court as a person who has absolutely no reason at all to perjure herself for the mother and is still here telling you mom never told her the guy was a friend.

    A far more likely scenario is that the babysitter DID tell the police that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true. It is certainly possible that the babysitter lied so that SHE didn’t get in trouble for dropping the kid off with a stranger.

  82. Andrea June 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    I won’t opine on whether this was a good idea or not. What I think does not matter.

    I am, however, so over this trend ARRESTING parents for their choices when no harm has come to the child. I do not think a parenting decision that did not actually result in any harm or negative effects is criminal. Explain to the parent why it’s a bad idea. Use the cost of jailing them to pay for parenting classes. But to give them a criminal record, separate them from their child, and put more stress in their lives than they already have (and being a parent today is already stressful enough) is too much — the hate and lack of compassion in this country is disgusting.

  83. K June 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I wouldn’t do the same thing, but I don’t like the idea that rights of parents to make decisions themselves are being lost at an alarming rate.

  84. no rest for the weary June 19, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Well, we’ve got a lot of “experts” here who know “right” from “wrong.”

    They also like using words like “always,” “never” and “should.”

    Judgement can save your life, and judgement can kill, too.

    Perhaps laws about child “neglect” have not changed much since the 1940’s, but the ways in which we INTERPRET their vague language has changed DRAMATICALLY.

    What this community often seeks to understand is how we, as parents, have become ever more beholden to other people’s (neighbours, bystanders, CPS workers) subjective interpretations of what constitutes “abuse,” “neglect,” and “endangerment,” and how we can reclaim some autonomy in caring for our children in the ways we sense are supportive of them, of ourselves, and of the larger society as a whole.

    Would that include burning a child’s arm with a lit cigarette? Lighting them on fire after dousing them in gasoline? Withholding food and water or adequate hygiene and toilet? Would it include leaving the child in the care of an adult who is selling and using illegal drugs, and having sex to earn money to pay for those drugs, all within view of the child? Would it include feeding a child floor wax in order to produce “symptoms” to be “treated” by physicians? Would we offer autonomy to someone whose child was 40% underweight, covered in bruises, burns and lacerations, and wearing filthy, torn clothes?

    No, we probably would not consider those things to be within a parent’s “rights” because the child is clearly being physically harmed, or, in the case of witnessing acts of prostitution and illegal drug use, in close enough proximity of something harmful and illegal that we consider that dangerous.

    I myself cringe when I see or read about evidence of the kind of intensely harmful parenting that leaves children broken, scarred, and emotionally shut down.

    But I have to say I cringe EQUALLY when I see how “child protection” has come to include ANY CIRCUMSTANCE where ANYONE OTHER THAN THE PARENT decides that the child “might come to harm.”

    EVERY DAY parents are driving children from point A to point B in a car. And children are coming to harm. And nobody calls it “endangerment,” because that term is so utterly and completely SUBJECTIVE.

    I’m less and less concerned about the laws and how they are written. What concerns me is the way they are interpreted, and the vulnerability of parents and children when whatever they are doing is “reported” to the “authorities” and the “system” decides to “intervene.”

    Slippery slope doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening. To judge this mother as “wrong” and “a crappy parent” is no different than when a bystander sees your kid sitting in the car in the Stop n Shop parking lot and phones the police.

    Anytime we insist that we are “right” about the amount of risk that should be tolerated when it comes to raising children, and that someone else is “wrong,” well, we all suffer.

    Don’t want to send your kid on a road trip with someone you haven’t met in person? Don’t do it. But don’t claim that you know this was illegal, you know that this was stupid, you know that this was too risky, as if what your gut tells you ought to be the standard for every single parent’s behaviour everywhere on the planet.

    The laws are written so vaguely that we are absolutely at the mercy of even the craziest notion of “danger” when it comes to our kids. Maybe this is a juicier example than the “left in the car for 5 minutes on a cool day,” but to the people pointing fingers and claiming “criminal neglect,” it’s ALL THE SAME.

    And that’s why we discuss this.

  85. no rest for the weary June 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Perhaps, if she’d lived 100 years ago, this mother could have stuck some stamps to her kid and mailed him through the US Post:

    “Of course for some, laws are meant to be broken. And merely a month after the “no-humans” announcement, rural carrier B.H. Knepper in Maryland carried a 14-pound baby from its grandmother’s home in Clear Spring to the mother’s house in Indian Springs, twelve miles away. A local newspaper reported that the baby slept through the entire trip.

    A year later, the longest trip by a child “mailed” through parcel post was made by six-year-old Edna Neff. She traveled from her mother’s home in Pensacola, Florida, to her father’s home in Christainburg, Virginia. There is little information on the specifics of Edna’s trip, which was made by railway mail train other than her weight, recorded as just under the 50-pound limit resulting in a trip cost 15 cents in parcel post stamps.”

    http://postalmuseumblog.si.edu/2013/02/very-special-deliveries.html

    None of these parents were arrested, even though they “broke the law.” My, how times do change.

  86. Warren June 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    This is only bad parenting if you go with worst first thinking. It is as simple as that.

  87. no rest for the weary June 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Right. We assume that a “stranger” is automatically dangerous to a child, and that someone “known” to the parent is automatically safe for the child.

    So if she’d arranged for her “funny” Uncle Joe to take Junior to Grandma’s, and Uncle Joe sodomized the boy, then Mom is off the hook, even though she herself was fondled by Uncle Joe as a girl, and knew he had raped his own sons as well.

    Because family comes first!

  88. John June 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    I’ve read ALL of the comments here to date and not one person here commented on race. Now as a conservative white male, I do get upset at minorities who always play the race card when race was not the issue in their firing or arrest or whatever. BUT since this woman is African-American, I’m wondering if that might have had something to do with her arrest. If she were a middle or upper class white person, would she have been arrested for something like this? Or would she merely have received a stern slap-on-the-wrist with a warning of “Never do this again” instead? I’m not sure. Whaddya all think?

  89. SKL June 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Exactly, how sure a parent must be of another person’s reliability is extremely subjective.

    I think some people on here probably started dating their spouses with less information than they think parents should have about their kids’ adult companions.

    And since statistically kids are in more danger from adults they know, then shouldn’t we consider it neglect to allow people into hour houses with our kids, to let them stay the night, or, Heaven forbid, to let them move in? Should all cohabitating moms be in jail because statistically that is a more dangerous situation than setting up a 9yo boy for ride sharing with a guy he doesn’t know?

    If this is going to be a crime, then we have to be consistent. If our risk tolerance doesn’t go so far as to let a random guy be hired by a mom to drive a kid somewhere, then we should not allow anything with a higher risk level than that. And since we know that statistically that is an extremely low risk situation, a lot of parents are doing riskier things every day.

    Again, this isn’t about whether or not this is stellar parenting. I don’t like the parenting choices of a lot of people who aren’t criminals. And there are people who think my parenting choices sucks. That’s really besides the point here.

    A lot of times, parents are in trouble because they had to choose between two very non-ideal courses of action. Most of us are rarely in that situation, and when we are, we probably have access to more information and choices that can help us come up with a solution that doesn’t raise too many eyebrows. It doesn’t mean we’re better people, but even if we are better people, that still isn’t the point. The question is whether a parent’s decision to trust another adult with her child, without specific knowledge that he has concerning issues, can ever be illegal. I think not.

  90. John June 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    @no rest for the weary…..Interesting. And what about these kids who most recently came unaccompanied from places such as Columbia and Panama and deep down into Mexico to cross the U.S. border? I’m completely stumped on that one as many of these kids were as young as 6. So how could children that young travel all the way thru Mexico by themselves? There has to be parts of this story I missed. Can anyone here fill me in?

  91. SKL June 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    And for those who think the CPS needed to step in: what do you think CPS is going to do? Pretty likely, ship the kid (in the care of a stranger) to his grandmother. But only after scaring the crap out of the kid and his whole family. So this is better than what the mom planned?

    Though it might be more complicated than that. Maybe there is a father who wants custody but isn’t safe with the kid in the mom’s opinion. Or maybe, in the course of the CPS investigation, someone will take issue with how many cats Granny has in her house or whether she smokes indoors. Then the kid will be in limbo and possibly in the care of strangers during all this time. Is this better than what the mom planned?

    Sure, there may be lots more to the story, and the story might even be completely misstated. But even so, the commentary and the attitude that the described choice, in iteself, is a *crime* disturbs me.

  92. ggg June 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    “If I trust someone with my kids, why is it up to anyone else to question that? – L.”

    The person doing the questioning was the person who was clearly not comfortable being trusted with the care of the child!

    It does seem ridiculous for the guy to be setting up a sting operation rather than just saying hey, I’m not comfortable assuming responsibility for your son.

  93. E June 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    @John, you’re never going to get the answer to that. And it’s no different than suggesting that maybe the manner in which the Mom conducted the discussions with the driver made him feel very concerned on behalf of the kid? I mean, maybe it was race-influenced…or maybe the guy had legit concerns. You can pick a hypothetical and go with it, but that works both ways.

    As far as middle or upper class, it’s probably less likely those people are going to consider unusual methods of getting their kid’s to Grandma. It does point out that not everyone has easy ways of getting things done.

    BTW, apparently at least some of her prior legal issues stem from driving a vehicle that wasn’t insured, registered, and w/o a license. At least that’s what another site linked to. I’m not sure that’s relevant, but figured I’d throw it in there.

  94. Warren June 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    A truly good guy would have helped the mother out. Not called the cops to get his 15 mins. of fame.

    Ratting out someone instead of helping them, makes you an a-hole, not a concerned citizen.

  95. E June 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Warren, I understand your thinking..and maybe that’s exactly what happened. However, if the guy had legit reasons to be concerned for the kid, then what choices does he have? Take the kid to his Grandma’s and wish him luck?

    I realize a lot of the time we are discussing if involving anyone is necessary. I just keep wondering what you’re supposed to do if you ARE concerned.

    And I also get that legal complications are probably not at ALL what a difficult home situation needs. I totally agree that education/resources is better than punitive measures.

    But I’m also willing to believe that the child deserves better.

    I’m also willing to believe this guy was creeped out by the possibility of getting caught up in a sting himself and figured the best way out of it was to call the cops himself.

    That’s sad too (as you stated previously).

  96. D June 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    @E I could be wrong but if you read/click through to more google news articles you learn a few more facts about the case. One of them stated that the Police report shows that she lied to the babysitter saying the destination was Macon, although some reports do say Macon and some say Florida itself. I do think there is a difference in an hours drive and an 8 hour drive though. However, the child was handed off to an undercover cop and not the craigslist person. So there is that too.

    A good FULL overview can be found on:

    http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/06/mom-uses-craigslist-to-get-son-a-ride-but-gets-arrested-instead.html

    To top it off the mother is being held, at least in part, because of other unrelated charges. See she missed a court date for something totally unrelated so she probably had a bench warrant out for her arrest. So she is also in jail right now for skipping out on a criminal case in court.
    Here are links to her arrests. All car related…

    http://georgia.arrests.org/Arrests/Sheila_Joyner_8668445/
    http://georgia.arrests.org/Arrests/Shelia_Joyner_16728363/

    Here is her linkedin page. She’s a stripper.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/sheila-joyner/51/696/105

    So maybe there is more going on for this kid than how he gets to grandma’s house or being free range you know. It might be better for him this way? Who knows.

  97. Dirk June 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    @E I have tried a couple times to post some links about the case but it keeps getting flagged by the website here for moderator approval. At any rate I agree that a one hour trip is better than an 8 hour trip but the news reports kind of flip flop on what the actual destination is. They also say that the once the driver called the cops the police set up a sting to arrest the mother. Turns out she had a bench warrant out of her arrest in regards to another court case. Also, if you google her name you find that through her linkedin page she is a stripper and adult star. I would think this has something to do with the police interest. So maybe there is more going on for this kid than how he gets to grandma’s house or being free range you know. It might be better for him this way? Who knows.

  98. no rest for the weary June 19, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    “It might be better for him this way?”

    Or not.

    Could be out of the frying pan and into the fire. But humans are famous for wanting to meddle with things that they think they can improve, even when there isn’t a huge problem to begin with.

    Her prior record explains why she didn’t want to drive the kid herself.

    However, strippers cannot take proper care of children. Right? Am I right? And even though their work is perfectly legal, we’d better take their kids away, because children.

    Anyway, this case takes us to a pretty intense place where we have to confront what we are actually asking for when we say we want freedom and autonomy. We, sitting in our place of privilege, want to be sure that we, who provide EVERYTHING for our kids, are not arrested for leaving them in the car for a few minutes or having them walk a mile without us.

    But do we feel as passionately about this woman, whose trade speaks of possible connections to the less savoury aspects of life, and her autonomy? Or do we throw all of our passion out the window as soon as we see someone not exactly like ourselves, making choices that we think we would never make… even though the boy was not coming to any harm? Unless we’ve all suddenly decided to abdicate the reason we’ve so carefully cultivated here and insist it’s a foregone conclusion that anyone procured to drive your kid in this way is DANGEROUS, then we have to say, “Meh, there’s a whole lot of ways to grow up in this world, and who am I to say this one is necessarily the worst?”

    After all, kids who are given extremes in terms of support and privilege sometimes burn out and commit suicide because they imagine they can’t live up to the perfectionistic expectations that their wealthy parents have laid on them. Who gets charged then?

    Judgement, my friends, is where the wheels come off the wagon. And if you want freedom in cases where no one is coming to frank immediate harm, well, that means freedom for all. Even the strippers.

  99. E June 19, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    All of the discussions here involve judgement. Judging the system, judging the actions of parents we’ve never met, judging the authorities, judging bystanders who report things, etc.

    We can always assume that it’s overreaching I suppose. But if that were the case, nothing bad would ever happen to a child, right?

  100. Richard June 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    @Donna: “Does any of this really mean that she should be arrested? Probably not, but I am fine with CPS being involved because there are a lot of red flags here.”

    That wouldn’t be too bad if CPS wasn’t just this side of getting on the sex-offender list. Once they’re involved they can decide – basically by whim – to take someone’s kids away from them or to set up years of random monitoring while they decide if that’s what they’re going to do. Its a very scary thought.

    We’ve given ourselves no grey areas any more, and that’s a problem.

    Most people would be happy to hire a friend of a friend – or a friend of a coworker – as a babysitter under similar circumstances. As someone else pointed out, statistically the kid is in far more danger from “Uncle Jimmy” than from any random stranger.

    If the driver didn’t like what was offered, he should have declined. I would in his case. There was no need for the police to respond or for them to then arrest the mother.

  101. Richard June 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    A scary random example of CPS overreaction can be found right here at http://www.freerangekids.com/6-y-o-who-walked-alone-to-post-office-may-be-removed-from-her-home/

  102. SKL June 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    If she’s a stripper, so what? So are half of the actresses in Hollywood – many of whom are moms, whose kids are in no danger of being removed.

    Historically, it really isn’t that big of a deal for a 9yo boy to head out somewhere without the company of a caregiver they know. Think of war-torn countries or times of severe discrimination / genocide, where many children are sent away with whoever is willing to take them. (“Are” because it still happens today.) Of course in our very privileged world, we are so far removed from those circumstances that we can’t imagine someone in our country deciding that that was the best option for her kid. But I think that says more about us than about the mom who made that decision.

    I also wonder if this is really all that unusual. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in the news, but honestly, I doubt that this is the first time a parent arranged for a casual acquaintance to transport a child somewhere.

  103. E June 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    If we’re going to compare things to war zones, then yes, every other situation is not that dangerous. Done deal.

    But the man was not a casual acquaintance, he was a complete stranger that no one in her family or friends had ever met or seen before.

  104. SKL June 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    So let’s get down to the real question.

    SO WHAT if the guy was a complete stranger? Please articulate exactly what is wrong with a “complete stranger” driving a 9yo boy somewhere.

  105. E June 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    @SKL, because I don’t turn my kids over to complete strangers because it’s convenient to me?

    Because if it were ME looking for a ride share, I (the adult) would have the opportunity to meet and evaluate the person, their condition, their transportation, and generally decide if I wanted or felt comfortable riding with them. I believe that the child should have benefited from the same sort of evaluation by his parent/guardian.

    I presume if you were walking down a street of people ,there would be people you’d gravitate toward and away from based on your own observations if you were selecting someone to introduce/supervise/transport your kid. This Mom didn’t even get that far. She relied on pixels on her phone.

    I accept that she may have had limited resources, but if she has a phone that texts, is there some legitimate reason she couldn’t have actually spoken to the man and asked him his last name?

  106. Puzzled June 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Stranger from Craigslist/CPS worker – the main difference is that one is known to work for a dangerous organization, the other is a total unknown. Take the total unknown.

  107. Warren June 19, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    E,
    How could he have concerns for the kid, never having met or seen the kid?

    Next, if you wanted me to meet you to be evaluated before letting you get in my car, you would be told to piss off and take the bus. Get in the car or don’t but do not tell me what to do.

  108. SKL June 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    E, I still don’t know what is wrong with the guy just because the mom didn’t know him.

    I didn’t ask what YOU would do. I thought it was established that that is not the question.

    If you were arranging a rideshare on Craigslist for yourself, you would not be all “come let me feel your vibes” until you found someone you really jived with. There isn’t time for that; people are busy. So you’re going to get in the car, and unless he’s a really scary freak, you’ll put up with him for the next x hours until you reach the destination. Otherwise you’ll have to pay him for his trouble / lost opportunity and still find another ride.

    As for your reference to “convenience,” I don’t know that convenience was this mom’s motivator. Maybe she could not think of any other safe, feasible way to get the boy to his grandma’s house, and maybe there was a really good reason why he needed to go there.

  109. SKL June 19, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    “It’s wrong because I wouldn’t do it.” That doesn’t cut it.

  110. Fighting for my children June 20, 2014 at 2:13 am #

    I think this was a poor thought out choice but certainly not criminal. How about the man talks to the mom and tells her his fears should she hire the wrong person? What happened to helping your neighbors instead of calling the authorities?

  111. Andy June 20, 2014 at 3:15 am #

    People, stranger does not equal danger. Given “omg he is stranger reactions” I’m starting to believe that fear inducing catching slogans in childhood are really harmful. Stranger danger is something adults should grow up from.

    Not taking guys names etc are sub-optimal decisions, but they should not excuse involvement of authorities.

  112. E June 20, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    You’re right SKL, I am interjecting my own common sense into this equation. It’s just very difficult to me to subject a child to a situation that, by definition, I would not do for myself.

    But you said something in you post:

    “…and unless he’s a really scary freak…”

    So, if you don’t meet the person who is going to be responsible for your kid in a car, you would you even get to that evaluation point?

    Everyone is different and has different life experiences, so my concern would not necessarily be about abuse, but just general safety and comfort for whomever is a passenger. For me, being alert and not under any influences is a big one. And if we’re always talking about probabilities, I suspect it’s far more likely that someone might be under the influence. I see a lot more arrests for that than child abduction/abuse.

    I also refuse to believe that “being busy” absolves parents of common sense processes (like speaking directly to the person — she had a phone, and asking his full name).

    But whatever, this can go round and round. Apparently this doesn’t rise to the level of concern for some and it does for others.

    I’ll say it again, if every situation of legal consequences were overreaching, then we’d never hear about kids being neglected. And that’s not the case.

  113. Dirk June 20, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    @ no rest for the weary

    No, I am sure there are good mothers who are strippers and appear in the typed of adult entertainment such as Moucha Moundz (her mothers stage name) does. However, be aware the reason her kid(s) were taken away is because she had a bench warrant out for her arrest on matters unrelated to her abilities as a parent. She failed to show up for a previous day in court and had an open warrant out for he immediate arrest. As a consequence her children would indeed be taken away from her. I believe they are actual in the custody of the very grandmother she was trying to send them to. (I have to wonder if the reason they were going to the grandmothers was because she knew she was soon to be arrested on the bench warrant.)

  114. Dirk June 20, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Just a reminder here is what happened:

    1) A man was approached online about driving a strangers kid to another town to stay with his grandmother.
    2) He felt uncomfortable with the situation and notified the police.
    3) The police looked the mother up and her name came back as having a warrant out for her arrest.
    4) The police arrested her.
    5) The kid was sent to his grandmother’s by the authorities.

  115. anonymous mom June 20, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    One thing I’d be curious about is the mother’s history of using rideshare/transportation services from Craigslist. If she doesn’t have a car, it’s possible that she has used these services before, and if she has previous good experiences with the rideshare board in this particular area, she might have had reason to feel a bit more confident about it than a person who had never used the services before.

  116. no rest for the weary June 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    However I want to get my kid from point A to point B is my business, right?

    I mean, as long as I am within road safety laws (meaning I can’t tie him to the roof of my Buick)?

    With whom I arrange his transport is not an issue for the authorities… is it?

    This woman may have had outstanding warrants because she didn’t register or insure her car, or have a license, but what does that have to do with arranging a ride for her son to get somewhere?

    The foundation of this issue is not this woman’s criminal record preceding her arranging the ride for her kid. The issue, to me, is why this arranging of a ride is considered of interest to the police at all.

    Could it be that as a culture, we reject the notion of handing off a child’s transportation to someone who isn’t a “professional”?

    Remember that case in Cleveland last summer, when those girls were discovered in the guy’s house and he’d been holding them prisoner for a decade? That guy was a bus driver. A SCHOOL BUS DRIVER. He’d been fired, but for many years, he was a professional school bus driver, chauffeuring Cleveland’s precious snowflakes all over town.

    It’s a crapshoot, folks. Your number might come up, or it might not. Some things you want to avoid doing, like mixing ammonia and bleach. Other things come out of nowhere, and other things are kind of in between.

    But insisting we all behave as though the worst-case scenario is the foregone conclusion, and insisting parents behave in ways that put our own troubled imaginations at ease is part of what this community is resisting… I thought.

  117. E June 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    So for those of you who believe this is over-reaching (and I admit it might be), and keep talking about specific laws…does that mean you do not believe in any grey/judgement areas. Must every risk to a child be spelled out in a very specific law? Should there be a law about how much food and water a child is given? What level of intoxication is acceptable when supervising an infant? a toddler? a school age kid?

    Look, this absolutely might be over-reaching. Or it might not. I’m just not sure how you can document every conceivable way a parent/guardian might neglect a child and make a law about it.

  118. no rest for the weary June 20, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Precisely. You can’t spell out every possible way a child can be suffering at the hands of the adults who are in a role to care for and nurture him.

    So the laws are vague. They use terms like “endangerment” or “significant length of time.” One person’s endangerment might include a sober, licensed adult driving a kid in a late-model vehicle, all strapped into the back seat, because yes, even kids who are riding in the nicest cars and wearing restraints come to harm in a motor vehicle more often than they come to any other kind of significant harm.

    But I’ve yet to find anyone who gets upset about THAT risk. That one is taboo to discuss or contemplate. We don’t berate mothers who drive their kids to karate, saying, “Oh, sure, because it’s CONVENIENT and it saves you a little TIME you decide to DRIVE your kid in that metal DEATH BOX just for your own EASE. You are a lazy, abusive parent and should walk your child everywhere.”

    No. That would be nuts. And yet, we have, as a society, become nuts, because people are starting to assume that the slightest risk of possible harm to a child warrants removing that child from his home and placing him into the care of other people, possibly not related to him.

    In VERY rare and extreme cases, it is helpful to remove a child from a situation where they are being harmed physically and emotionally in ways that are having a direct and immediate impact on the child.

    But it’s like we’re all trying to peer into some cloudy crystal ball that tells us when a child is perhaps not YET coming to huge harm, but MIGHT come to huge harm. This did not used to be anyone’s business except the parents. But then we decided that parents are not capable of making those judgement calls for their kids, so we monitor and “correct” them, often at the behest of a casual bystander who sees no actual harm come to a child, but insists they are in danger anyway.

    Grey area? I’m all for it. I’m just willing to err on the side of allowing parents to arrange their own kid’s transportation, whether it be in their own car (VERY RISKY!!) or someone else’s car (pretty much the same risk). Or sending the kid on a train, plane, or bus. Or whatever.

    “Might come to harm” is not good enough for me to warrant arrest. Expressions of concerns are fine with me. You want to tell me you’re worried? Go ahead. You can even tell me why you are worried. Go ahead and offer me an alternative that you imagine might meet everyone’s needs. But calling the cops? Arresting me? Taking away my kids? That’s not my idea of child protection.

  119. Papilio June 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Re the comparison to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik* (East Germany): I can see it. Parenting is the new politics, CPS & the police the new Stasi, parents the people who rat out everyone who doesn’t do things the exact right way.

    It has nothing to do with how parenting went back then over there.

    *Democrate AND Republican – how confusing that name must be for Americans! 😛

  120. Alanna June 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Isn’t this some sort of age discrimination? I mean the driver is discriminating against a nine year old boy. What if the driver had refused to drive this child to Florida because he was black?

  121. Lea June 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    So you can look for a babysitter on Craigslist and it’s OK but not a ride for your child? I’ve had people post looking for childcare (on Craigslist, local trade groups and local garage sale groups)for the evening or whole weekend, and need it immediately (that day), so obviously no time for a background check or really even references. That’s not illegal, yet it’s still leaving your child in the care of a complete stranger.

    Nine year olds used to ride the Greyhound, across state lines, to Grandmas. They rode with a whole busload of strangers, no background checks or even personally meeting and greeting them. How is a ride share really any different?

    Criminalizing parental decisions because they are more questionable or risky than you would personally be comfortable with is ridiculous. I may not have made this same choice but I don’t think another parent making it should be criminalized, anymore than the person who looks online for a sitter and has them watch their child two hours after an online conversation with no more information than their name.

  122. Warren June 23, 2014 at 1:38 am #

    Unless this rat of a driver is a convict sex offender, with pre puberty preferences, or a habitual drunk driver, or a habitual dangerous driver, then there is no way in hell they can prove endangerment.

    If we allow courts to start convicting on the basis of what if, then we are all in trouble.

  123. delurking June 23, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    I’m impressed this is still going. Here is a way to think about it. What if a mother sent her 9-year-old son onto the subway system in New York alone? There are a few possible reactions you could have, in order of increasing effect:

    a. That is reasonable.
    b. She is a terrible mother.
    c. That is so risky she should be put under observation by child protective services to make sure she doesn’t do such things again.
    d. She should be put in jail.

    Now, let’s say a mother goes on Craigslist and finds a guy who posted that he will be driving to Florida and would take someone who was willing to share expenses. She arranges to send her 9-year-old son with that person. Again, you could have one of the above 4 reactions.

    If you have reaction “a” for the first case and reaction “d” for the second case, I have another analogy for you:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWPCE2tTLZQ

  124. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    The reason she is in jail is because she had a previous warrant out for her arrest. Not because she found a ride for her kid on craigslist. The craigslist driver called the cops because he thought the mother was acting oddly. The cops looked the mother up saw that she had a warrant out and arrested her. She was not arrested for using craigslist.

  125. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Joyner was arrested Friday afternoon at her apartment and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Cobb County booking records show. Her bond was set at $1,000, but she remained in jail Tuesday for allegedly not appearing in court in an unrelated case, jail records show.

  126. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    @delurking

    There is a difference between letting a 9 year old use the subway (a public space) and putting a 9 year old directly into a car (a private space). Isn’t there? No?

    “At no time did accused get any information about this stranger and only communicated by text messages,” the warrant states. “Accused didn’t even know the last name of the stranger but only knew him as ‘Eric.’”

    Use of the subway allows the 9 year old authority, placing a 9 year old into a car puts the 9 year old under the authority of another.

  127. delurking June 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Dirk,

    The reason she is STILL in jail is because of a previous warrant. The article quite clearly describes how the police set up a sting in order to arrest her for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    As to your other arguments:
    1. You say there is difference between putting your kid in a public space and putting your kid in a private space. Yes, one is public and one is private. You’ll have to explain one one is fine and the other should result in jail time.

    You wrote:
    “Use of the subway allows the 9 year old authority, placing a 9 year old into a car puts the 9 year old under the authority of another.” Sure, out in public the kid is under his own authority unless someone forces his/her authority on the kid. What is your point? Again, if you think one is fine and the other should result in jail:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWPCE2tTLZQ

  128. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Dude…

    Her bond (for the child sting) was set at $1,000 and she could have left if that was all she had going on, but she remained in jail because she didn’t show up to a different court case.

    What that means is she was indeed arrested for contributing to the deprivation of a minor (Georgia Code – Crimes and Offenses – Title 16, Section 16-12-1) and was allowed to go home and not spend any time in jail if she payed her bail. However, because she had a bench warrant for a different legal matter she is still being held in relation to her other court case.

    A bench warrant is used for attachment or arrest in a case of contempt, which is the willful disregard or disobedience of an authority such as the court. A bench warrant is also issued when an indictment, which is a written accusation of a person’s guilt for an act or omission, is handed down. A third instance where a bench warrant is issued is to obtain a witness who disobeys a subpoena, which is a command to appear at a specified time and place to present testimony upon a certain matter.

    Put simply…if you miss a court date (which the mother did) the chances of you bailing out when you end up back in jail are slim (which is why she is still in jail).

    The mother missed a previous court date and is not allowed to leave jail because of that. Her being charged with contributing to the deprivation of a minor came with bail and she could have gone home if she had no other charges, however, her unrelated bench warrant from a different legal issue prevents her from leaving jail.

  129. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Should one be fine and other = jail? Well the other hasn’t equaled jail. She was arrested, charged under Georgia Code – Crimes and Offenses – Title 16, Section 16-12-1, and given bail. So essentially she was fined and will need to attend to (another) court case in her future. However, regardless of how she was recently arrested she had an additional court case which she ignored and is in now jail because of that.

    Carlin’s bit about how people tend to most agree with people who act like them is very funny. It is also funny how the people in his bit who act like “maniacs” probably would get a speeding ticket.

    If you are asking if I think Georgia Code – Crimes and Offenses – Title 16, Section 16-12-1 applies in this situation I would say no it does not. You could argue that by handing the minor over to an unknown individual you have deprived the minor of a guardian but that would be weak legal case. Unless, there is additional information not yet available to the public.

    IF you are asking if I personally think giving a 9 year old to a babysitter to deliver to a man at a gas station that you found on craigslist that you have only communicated with via texts who’s last name you don’t know is an example of sub optimal parenting? Then my answer is yes.

  130. delurking June 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Well, Dirk, that is some pretty ridiculous hairsplitting about what does and doesn’t constitute being “in jail”. Do you think that if she hadn’t had those other warrants out, that this ordeal would not have taken any time out of her day? No, I’m pretty sure the police went to her apartment on Friday afternoon, and took her to jail, where she stayed until Monday when bond was set at $1000, but she was still in jail Tuesday because of the other warrants. If those other warrants hadn’t been there, she would still have spent the weekend in jail by any reasonable understanding of “in jail”.

    If you concede that she didn’t break the law, then what are you arguing about?

    That she was arrested for this is ridiculous, regardless of whether or not you or I would have done this with our children.

  131. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    @delurk

    On the subject of what constitutes going to “jail.” It generally takes less than 6 hours to post bail in most areas (depends on the jail and other factors). The mother was not held until Tuesday because of the endangerment charges. When the papers mention that “she remained in jail Tuesday” it is because she was in jail when they wrote the article on Tuesday. The articles says “she remained in jail Tuesday” so that if she got out at some point after the article was published it would still be correct. She could have posted bail for endangerment charges same day (that Friday), in fact the code says so, and bail is usually posted in 6 hours (or less) but for some reason she couldn’t post bail for the original charges/bench warrant so she stayed in jail up until presumably today. Let me say that again. She could have posted bail and been home probably within 6 hours if the only charges against her were the child endangerment charges. However, she was not allowed to post bail to the additional bench warrant and related charges so she remained in jail. It is unusual for bench warrants to not allow for bail so my assumption is that bail was denied in the bench warrant charges because of repeatedly not showing up for court dates.

    If she had been pulled over for speeding she would have also been arrested because of the bench warrant and put in jail. If she did anything that caused her contact with the police she would have been arrested. When you get a bench warrant your name goes into a statewide computer system that serves the entire law enforcement community. Once your name is in the database, if you have to deal with the police for any reason – even resulting from an incident that was not your fault, such as someone hitting your car from behind – you will be taken into custody for the outstanding bench warrant.

    The interesting thing is that for bench warrants you can usually pay a fine by posting bond. Meaning even if you don’t have the money you can get a bondsman to front you the money. In this case either the court did not allow bond (the most likely reason would be that the defendant is a risk to not appear before the court again) or the individual was deemed a risk by her bondsman and could not get a bond to pay bail on the original warrant.

    Do I think she broke the law under GA codes from what it says in the article? I don’t believe so, however, it depends on two things in reality. 1) What where her exact communications with “Eric” and the police. If she explicitly showed disregard towards the safety of the minor then she might be in trouble. It is unclear if she did in the article. 2) If there is additional information about the care of the child that is not included in the article.

    Here is what it would take to prove endangerment:

    (8) “Deprived child” means a child who:

    (A) Is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals;

    (B) Has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law;

    (C) Has been abandoned by his or her parents or other legal custodian; or

    (D) Is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.

    So if the exchanges between the mother and then “Eric” and the Police align with the above, of if the raid on the home aligns with the above, or if the police already had information aligned with the above then yes the mother could get jail time.

    I do not concede that her getting arrested is ridiculous and I also do not concede that she didn’t break the law. I know that she did break the law several times over. One of those times caused a bench warrant to be issued that she is currently in jail for. Another one of those times involves a child endangerment charge which she may or may not be convicted on.

  132. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    The chain of events also lead me to believe that the minor was being sent to his grandparents because the mother knew that she would be going to jail.

  133. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    @ delurking

    I see that you pointed out that nannies and such are available over craigslist and there are free background searches available. All true. However, you need to ask someone their last name and stuff to do that. It is implied, and only implied in the articles, that the mother did not seem interested in such information. You asked “We have no idea if she spoke with him or not, or if she did her own background check,” but we do know that she did no such thing…because she never received any information about the man other than his first name, Eric. If you google the name Eric you get 166,000,000 responses.

  134. Dirk June 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Police say Joyner only knew the Craigslist poster as “Eric,” and they only communicated via text messaging.

    On the day of arranged travel, police say Joyner asked a babysitter to bring her son to RaceTrac on Delk Road in Marietta to meet with the Craigslist poster. Police say Joyner lied to the babysitter, telling the caretaker the man picking up her son was a “friend.”

    Joyner, who was arrested Friday, is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She remains in Cobb County Jail on an unrelated failure to appear in court charge.

  135. delurking June 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    “I do not concede that her getting arrested is ridiculous and I also do not concede that she didn’t break the law.”

    Do you have an opinion or do you just like to argue for its own sake?

  136. SKL June 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Am I the only person who thinks that, once you have a guy’s cell phone info, the cops can trace him if necessary? So if the kid doesn’t arrive at Grandma’s as expected, the cops would be able to find the guy just as fast as if the mom had his last name.

    Meeting someone in person doesn’t really prove anything that is relevant to a 9yo kid sitting in a car all day. Unless he is falling down drunk, which the babysitter could have figured out.

    I just don’t feel a 9yo is in any more danger from a random ride sharer than an 18yo.

    The fact that the mom had other legal stuff going on does not mean she should have been arrested for the “crime” of trusting a guy with her 9yo son.

  137. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    This isn’t a simple case of stranger danger. What is at issue here is 1) How the parent interacted with Eric. 2) Are there additional instances of endangerment that have not been released.

    In regards to how the parent interacted with Eric it is heavily implied that she did not perform any basic parenting actions. What has not been released is what happened in regards to the sting. In most police stings the undercover officer provides opportunities for the target to explicitly incriminate themselves.

    In regards to additional instances of child endangerment a good police detective would for example see of the child attends school or has arranged for home schooling. They would also check the home for drugs, incriminating photos, purchases. Etc.

    The articles available for this arrest indicate that at least some of the things I mention above have happened. It would be unlikely that a district attorney would ok charges without supporting evidence.

  138. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    To answer delurk: My opinion is that you are having a knee jerk reaction to the title of the blog entry “Mom Jailed for Trusting a Stranger to Drive Her Son, 9” without taking any details or facts into account. The reasons for this are because I know that she did break the law several times over. One of those times caused a bench warrant to be issued that she is currently in jail for. Another one of those times involves a type of child endangerment charge which she may or may not be convicted on depending on the details and facts of the case. The details and facts of the case extend beyond 9 year old + stranger danger = jail. The details and facts of the case include previous actions of the parent (lifestyle and previous legal issues included) in addition to the specifics of how she arranged this particular craigslist ride and if it is indicative of all decisions in regards to this minor. And you agree with me, because in your George Carlin analogy Joyner isn’t the person going slow, or the person driving your speed, she is the “maniac” who is more likely to get ticketed.

  139. SKL June 24, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Well, if this just happened, the kid probably isn’t in school because it’s summer.

    Which is possibly why he was going to live with his granny, if his mom has a through the summer.

    True, you never know if there is more to the story. But based on what I do know so far, it is not criminal, and the police should not have been involved in the first place. The fact that she has other issues has no bearing on whether it is illegal to set up a rideshare for a 9yo without knowing the intimate details of the driver.

    I have a creative mind, and I can imagine some reasons why she might have been doing wrong, but at the moment that’s just in my imagination. It doesn’t count.

  140. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    @ SKL

    It isn’t illegal to set up a ride share for a 9 year. What the DA will say in court is that she abandoned her child (or something similar).

    In response to when you say the kid wasn’t in school because it is summer. Not being in school in the moment (most schools go into June these days by the way) doesn’t matter. If her child is routinely not in school that is something the DA will admit as evidence.

    But here it is. Once again. The mother is not in jail because of her use of craigslist to find a ride for her 9 year old. She is in jail because of other charges.

    AND once again she WAS NOT arrested purely because she used craigslist to arrange a ride for her 9 year old.

    She was arrested and charged with a type of child endangerment because of how she used craigslist to arrange a ride for her 9 year old (meaing she took less than reasonable steps as a parent, but also that she most likely incriminated herself during the sting operation) coupled with her previous legal issues and lifestyle choices.

    The simple fact that she HAD a bench warrant out for her arrest is enough to charge her under the child endangerment code of Georgia. Because once she got the bench warrant for her arrest it was possible to prove endangerment. Once she the bench warrant for her arrest for an UNRELATED court case was issued the child became a deprived child.

    (8) “Deprived child” means a child who:

    (A) Is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals;

    (B) Has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law;

    (C) Has been abandoned by his or her parents or other legal custodian; or

    (D) Is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.

    AGAIN, once the bench warrant for the UNRELATED case was issued the child was without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals.

    All the mother had to do to avoid this was show up to court. But she didn’t. So a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. At that point all she had to do was turn herself in (because a warrant was already out for her arrest) and ask the court to deliver her child to his grandmother (which they would have). But she didn’t. Instead she used craigslist (which is legal) but then she clearly took no reasonable steps as a parent but also most likely incriminated herself to an under cover police officer. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT!

    The point is once she had a bench warrant out for her arrest from an unrelated court case (not from her use of craigslist) she was open to the child endangerment charges. Why? Once again…because she was going to jail! And because she was going to go to jail the 9 year old was a deprived child…a deprived child is one without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals. One who has been abandoned by his or her parents or other legal custodian; or is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.

    Her use of craigslist (although now part of a larger case) is inconsequential to her eventual charges of child endangerment. The 9 year old would have been removed from her home regardless due to her pending arrest in the unrelated case (not the craigslist case) and the mother would most likely have faced some form of child endangerment charges stemming from her legal issues and lifestyle.

    What lifestyle you say? It took me about five minutes of searching the mother name to find that she has a linkedin account as an Adult Entertainer with a stage name of Mocha Mounds. That she has appeared in low budget adult films. And that she has listings on the escort ad on backpages and other websites. (Discreet Marietta Escort Mocha Moundz! was one of the titles for the ad.)

    So I have to assume that part of the child endangerment charges probably…you know…stem from these types of things too.

    To sum up!

    She had a bench warrant out for her arrest unrelated to her 9 year old. Once she had that warrant out for her arrest she was open to a child endangerment charge. She wasn’t arrested for purely using craigslist to find a ride for her 9 year old although that is part of the wider case and it is likely that she showed endangerment in her text messages that she exchanged with the undercover officer as the target of a sting. There is likely additional information that is relevant to the charges of child endangerment. However, they are not necessary to prove endangerment as her being arrested for charges unrelated to her 9 year old are enough to prove endangerment.

  141. SKL June 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Dirk, your very creative assumptions aside, you seem to be saying that every child of a parent with legal issues is a criminally endangered child.

    I have a speeding ticket that I have to pay today by 4pm, and if I don’t, and I skip court, there will be a bench warrant out for my arrest. Should I therefore be charged with child endangerment? I guess in your book I should.

    Your logic is extremely confusing. She was apparently trying to send her kid to a safe relative’s home. Simultaneously, in your interpretation of the facts, she was going to jail for something else. So in your opinion the fact that there was a warrant out rendered it illegal for her to put her kid in a safe place for the time when she was in jail. You sound very confident but I highly doubt the law is on your side there.

    And I’m so sure she could have walked her kid up to the courthouse and asked them to please drive him to his grandmother’s house. No, he would have gone in to custody and gone through a bunch of emotionally painful procedures and the end result may or may not have left him at his grandmother’s house.

    There is no “right way” to arrange a ride for your kid, because that is not covered by legal regulations in this country. There are supposed to be some things left up to the individual. As a working single mom, I use a variety of people’s services to get my kids where they need to be. Some I know, some I don’t. There is no legal right or wrong about how I go about picking their drivers. It is up to me to decide that based on my views of my family’s needs, the risks involved, and frankly whatever the hell I feel like doing. Am I wrong? If I am, pray tell, what law should I be looking up to make sure I do it the right way? Or does it really depend on whether I pay my speeding ticket in time?

  142. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    OMG…SKL

    Ok. Let’s break it down…I want you to imagine a world where Craigslist doesn’t exist. Poof it is gone. Everything else is the same but this lady never saw Craigslist. Ready? Let’s go…

    Sheila Sherrie Joyner has a bench warrant out for her arrest. (Remember craigslist does not exist, she never tried to use it to arrange a ride). She will be arrested and put in jail because of the bench warrant. The bench warrant stipulates that she is not eligible for bail. So now Sheila Sherrie Joyner is in jail. The 9 year old is now, according to GA law, a deprived child. He has no supervision. As a result yes, Sheila Sherrie Joyner is open to a child endangerment charge.

    The right way to arrange transport of a 9 year old is irrelevant. Sheila Sherrie Joyner was going to jail due to the bench warrant out for her arrest. There is no interpretation here. She is still in jail today because of the bench warrant. Remember craigslist doesn’t exist everything else is the same.

    Removing everything else. Everything. Remove any attempt to find a driver and remove lifestyle. Simply the fact that she is in jail (no craigslist!) opens Sheila Sherrie Joyner up to a charge of child endangerment because the minor has been left unsupervised.

    This is not my opinion this GA law. That is it.

  143. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Your quip, SKL, if you can do “frankly whatever the hell I feel like doing” or if should you check the laws is very funny. However, being declared your state’s equivalent to an unfit parent varies at least slightly within each state.

    Generally, a parent may be deemed unfit if they have been abusive, neglectful, or failed to provide proper care for the child. A parent with a mental disturbance or addiction to drugs or alcohol may also be found to be an unfit parent. Failure to visit, provide support, or incarceration are other examples of grounds for being found unfit.

    Incarceration means going to jail (jail is only temporary by the way, if convicted Sheila Sherrie Joyner will go to prison, which is different). Incarceration…like going to jail for not showing up to (NO CRAIGSLIST!!!) court for un-craigslist related activities.

  144. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    We will have to follow this case to see what happens…

  145. SKL June 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    No, Dirk, she never left the minor unsupervised! She never left him home alone while she went to jail. She was trying to send him to his granny, but instead the cops abducted him, but she never left him alone while in jail. She was trying to arrange a home for him – that’s what single parents do if they’re going to jail. What else are they supposed to do?

    She, like thousands of others, may have thought perhaps she wasn’t going to jail. Who knows. There are so many scenarios. But either way, she never left her kid sitting home alone while she was sitting in jail. She tried to transfer him to his granny’s house when she was *not* in jail.

    I honestly think you are looney tunes if you think every parent out there with a bench warrant is going to be convicted of child endangering just for that.

    And let’s get real, we know her unrelated bench warrant is not the reason she was arrested and charged for contributing to the delinquency of her kid. That was just an excuse to keep her in jail, it was not the reason she was arrested in the first place. It was not the reason the cop got involved in the first place.

  146. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    The moment she had the bench warrant for her arrest issued she was open to the charge. She was. Incarceration (which the bench warrant assured) means the child would be unsupervised.

    Look, I said in another post SKL, I wouldn’t have made a charge based purely on the attempt to use craigslist. But based on her incarceration due to the bench warrant I am indeed telling you that a DA could charge her 100% with some type of child endangerment and be within the letter of the law. Believe what you want to believe.

    When she was arrested she was essentially arrested for two things at the same time. The bench warrant for her arrest on non-craigslist related legal issues and she was also charged with a type of child endangerment.

    Also, once again, the child endangerment charge will not be based only on the incarceration, or her perceived sub optimal use of craigslist, or her ahem…lifestyle. When presented to the court it will be based on all three. I guarantee it.

  147. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    @SKL

    When you say the bench warrant wasn’t the reason the cops got involved in the first place. Are you referring to her online postings as an escort? Or the other times she was supposed to be in court. Because you are right. Cops do not like seeing the same name pop up on their radars and are prone to singling people out to “get them off the streets…”

    Again, it doesn’t appear that the child related charges are stemming from any one incident. Moreover, she isn’t in jail today because of them. Getting turned in by Mr. Craigslist may have brought her back to the cops attention but she would have been arrested eventually due to the bench warrant, even if it was if she turned herself in. Her bench warrant carried a stipulation of no bail. Some judge wanted her to sit in jail until her court date from her previous charges.

    Look, I feel bad for her. Her use of craigslist actually seems like an attempt, poor as it was, to do a good thing and get the kid out of town. And judging from her facebook page she seems like a nice enough lady. And the kid looks like a nice kid. I hope it gets sorted out and that the kid is ok.

  148. Warren June 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Dirk,

    Just out of curioustity, are you the DA in this case?

    Unlike you, I would prefer to think that she was sending the kid to grandpa’s, so that she could deal with her legal issues. Knowing that she would probably not get bail, she was arranging for the needed supervision, for her child.

    Now since it was the police that interfered with her parental responsibilities, how can she be charged. And why not charge the idiot who made the call to arrest her with custodial interference?

  149. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    I am not involved in this case.

  150. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    No no no…I totally agree that she was probably sending the minor to the grandmother’s because she knew/thought she was going to go to jail.

  151. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Well Mr. Craigslist brought his contact to the cops. And like I said before, looking at what I can see from the 5 or so articles I clicked on related to these events, I assume (and only assume) that the way the mother conducted herself over her texts to Mr. Craigslist and the under cover officers made her look bad. And not stranger danger bad but unfit bad…I don’t really know though. But there is that and a lot of things both large and small in the articles and online that point towards a larger picture that any good attorney would use against the mother if that attorney was making a case. It doesn’t matter that according to the law that the reason she can’t supervise her kid is because she is jail. I know it sounds complicated and catch 22. But it really isn’t. The DA is going to say that she had all the negative things going on that one can, and then say that she said or did negative things in her texts with Mr. Craigslist and the under cover officers and will likely get a conviction on the child related charges. Remember the no craigslist scenario? They most likely do not need the craigslist issue to prove the child related case. But the cops are also going to say they didn’t prevent her from getting her kid from point a to point b. They are going to say she prevented that by freaking Mr. Craigslist out. But also, it doesn’t matter. Going to jail does leave you open to child abandonment charges if you do not make appropriate arrangements prior.

    I do not think this will end well for her. A win would be to stay out of jail and have some sort of contact with her child.

    And why not charge the idiot who made the call to arrest her with custodial interference you say? My assumption? I bet you the transcripts of the texts he had with the mother probably do not paint a good picture of her. I don’t know this but it would fit the type of case they want to build.

    So to sum up again…

    How can she be charged with child related items if the police stopped her from sending her kid away? The answer the police would give is they didn’t, she did by freaking out Mr. Craigslist. The fact that she was going to jail because they were going to arrest her doesn’t negate her need to make appropriate arrangements.

    And why not charge the idiot who made the call to arrest her with custodial interference you say? If you mean Mr. Craigslist he didn’t do anything illegal. If you mean the detective or district attorney. They are not directly responsible. The guardian is.

    It is a lousy situation. But the situation is more than a Mom Jailed for Trusting a Stranger to Drive Her Son, 9…

  152. Warren June 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Dirk,
    If you believe that police dept.s act properly while facilitating a sting? Then I definitely would not want you defending anyone.

    Unfortunately this mother will not be able to afford a good lawyer, and will probably have to plea her way out of it.

  153. Dirk June 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Warren,

    I can’t say much about the sting I don’t know anything about it. I think the police wanted to charge this lady with as much stuff as possible and figured that her child was going to be taken from her anyway…

  154. Random Person June 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    I bet all the people here crying about “busybodies” calling the police will be the same ones shocked and whining when no one calling the police results in a child’s death or injury. And it was a random ad on CRAIGSLIST ffs… criminals have used it to set up robberies and murders and prostitution. I could easily see a pedo doing this. Have you never seen “To Catch a Predator”?