Thursday, August 10, 2017
Legal Witch Hunts & Mad Hatters
Last Tuesday morning, in Wicomico County’s Circuit Court, Dove Pointe’s Director Donald Hackett was demonstratively absent as his former employee, Amy Francois, faced criminal misdemeanor charges; neglect of a minor (Statute Code CR.3.602.1.(b)). We all remember the inciting incident that happened over a year ago June at Leonard’s Mill Pond when a special needs child, Jyrah Brown, in the organization’s summer program, passed away days after he was found face down in the water.
Situations such as this always incites an urgency to ‘hold someone (anyone) accountable’ for such an unthinkable tragedy. In this case, the wrong ‘someone’ was put on trial and while Francois was acquitted because the State failed to meet the intent standard, she will live with this experience the rest of her life and the heartbroken Brown family have yet to see justice served for Jyrah’s death.
In reality, it’s Dove Pointe’s upper management, not Francois, whom bears the criminal negligence charge because it was their laxity that set the stage for this catastrophe to unfold. Yet, no upper management from the organization was present in Tuesday’s proceeding.
This leaves one to question why the State has not gone after Dove Pointe or its administrators, the ones ultimately responsible as they knowing put two severely special needs children with one caregiver who lacked the training to handle such a task. To date, no civil suit has been filed against the organization either. The question here is, why?
Are we seeing a two-tier justice system in play right here on the Shore?
We’re always told Dove Pointe is a great asset to our community, but how can they be when they allow their former employee to go through this ordeal without so much as an obligatory appearance. Of course, some could argue Hackett wants to distance his association from this event – perhaps in the hopes of not suffering scrutiny. However, one must wonder what kind of positive influence he has on Salisbury when his management threw their employee under the proverbial bus, knowing she was far from being a decision and/or policy maker.
Additionally, why would the State choose to go after the weakest link when all directives made, were far beyond her scope of influence and didn’t meet the statutory standards to secure a criminal conviction? This fact was brought to the State’s attention late June in a Dismissal Motion filed by Francois’s attorney, Luke Rommel. By not thinking through their stance to any legal or logical conclusion, the State Attorney's office not only set the victim’s family up for an imminent disappointment, it also needlessly wasted taxpayers’ money.
Did the State Attorney’s Office create more victims?
At its bare essence, the only thing Francois did was go to work that fateful day and do what she was told to do. Is this mundane activity now a reason to be threatened with a five-year prison sentence? If so, we’re all in legal peril every time we go to work!
Even though she was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing, Francois, a woman in her twenties, will live with future consequences as a result. Therefore, does she now have an excellent case against the State Attorney’s office for wrongful prosecution?
What happened to judicial duty and due diligence? If we still have any semblance of said responsibility in our jurisprudence, Dove Pointe should be next to face repercussions for their hand in this senseless death!
Only time will tell…
at 8/10/2017 09:15:00 AM