Melissa Henderson: Outrage after single working-mom of five faces JAIL for asking daughter, 14, to babysit
BLAIRSVILLE, GEORGIA: A single mother is facing one year in prison after she made her daughter, 14, babysit her siblings while she went to work amid the pandemic. While some are calling the act reckless, others believe it was simply the act of a mother who had no other choice. A single mother-of-five, Melissa Henderson let her eldest child, 14-year-old Linley, look after her other children in May 2020 when their daycare center shut down due to Covid. She has been charged with criminal reckless conduct.
Linley was reportedly engaged in online learning when her brother, Thaddeus, 4, slipped out of the house unnoticed. Thaddeus had stepped out when he saw his friend and went to play with him in Blairsville, Georgia. Linley noticed he was missing and found him at his friend's house down the street within 10 to 15 minutes. However, the friend's mom called the police in the meantime. About two weeks later, Henderson was arrested in front of her children. She faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $1,000, if convicted.
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Not much is known about Henderson, except that she is a single mother of five children and is working. The arresting officer, Deputy Sheriff Marc Pilote, wrote in his arrest report that anything could have happened to Thaddeus after he eandered off, including being kidnapped, run over or 'bitten by a venomous snake.' Henderson was handcuffed and arrested, and subsequently taken to Union County jail, where she recalled 'curling up in a ball in the corner and just wanting to hide.' Her ex-husband eventually bailed her out.
"I almost don't have words for how low it made me feel," she told Reason. "To truly feel in the bottom of my heart that if I'm anything, it's a good mother and everything you do is for your kids. To be stripped of that to the point where you are handcuffed in front of them." her attorney David DeLugas has argued that he charge is unconstitutional. He is seeking to get it dismissed.
A GoFundMe has been set up to benefit National Association of Parents, Inc. "Melissa is later arrested under Georgia's Reckless Conduct statute, a statute found unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1997 when applied to nearly identical facts. The arresting Deputy Sheriff, the Magistrate Judge that issued the warrant, and the District Attorney's office all were informed of the 1997 Georgia Supreme Court decision by ParentsUSA's Executive Director BEFORE Melissa was arrested," the page reads.
Henderson also has the support of ParentsUSA, a nonprofit charity that "preserves and supports the parent-child relationship through strategic litigation and education and is committed to protecting the fundamental Constitutional rights of parents." In a statement, the organization said, "ParentsUSA stands with parents whose rights are violated as they make decisions about their children, without causing harm to them, a standard the US Supreme Court established. Please support our defense of this mother which defense and, we expect, exoneration also sends the message to district attorneys, judges, and law enforcement that they must not use their personal assessment of "good" and "bad" parenting into their decisions to arrest and prosecute!"