Dayton Daily News: 2 kids left in car twice in one day, mother arrested for child endangering By Lucas Sullivan November 6, 2009 DAYTON - A 20-year-old woman was arrested on two felony child endangering charges Thursday, Nov. 5, after authorities warned her twice in the same day not to leave her children alone in the car. Angela N. Duncan left a 12-month-old boy and 9-month-old girl outside the YWCA on West Third Street before 11 p.m., police said. A passerby noticed the children alone in a 1998 green Honda Civic and called police about 11 p.m., police said. Duncan is the guardian of both children, police said. Duncan had been warned by police and Montgomery County Children’s Services earlier that day after she left the kids in the car for about 30 minutes, Children’s Services spokeswoman Ann Stevens said. A passerby also noticed the children alone in the car and called police in that instance, Stevens said. “We talked to her (after the first incident) about not doing that,” Stevens said. “Then the same thing happened again. The children have been placed in foster care and are doing just fine.” Stevens said it’s never OK to leave children unattended. “It only takes a second for something to go wrong,” Stevens said. WHIO-TV (Dayton): No Charges For Mom Who Left Kids In Car November 6, 2009 DAYTON, Ohio -- We have learned that a local woman arrested for leaving her small children alone in a car, may not be facing criminal charges after all. Dayton police said Angela Duncan, 20, left her 12-month old boy and 9-month- old girl in a car parked outside the YWCA on West Third Street late last night. Police said Duncan has not been charged because she claims she left the children with two adults who were supposed to watch them, but took off. Officers and officials from Montgomery County Children's Services warned Duncan earlier on Thursday, after leaving the children in the car for about 30 minutes. Tonight, the two children are in foster care. The Akron Beacon Journal: Media ban sought in custody case BY: Beacon Staff Report November 11, 2009 Prosecutors will ask Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio to close a custody hearing set for parents charged with rape and child pornography. A custody hearing was set for Tuesday. Assistant Prosecutor Chris Mastran objected to the Akron Beacon Journal's presence, however. Mastran was granted a delay to argue against media coverage involving the children of Michael Winland and Stephennie Murphy. A hearing is set for Monday. The newspaper is expected to argue against closing the hearing. The Children's Services Board is seeking custody. Mastran said she was concerned about the effect news reports would have on the children, ages 9 and 10, because of the ''egregious'' facts of abuse that could be revealed. The parents are willing to waive custody based on their incarceration pending trial, their attorneys said. The couple would not, however, agree to an abuse finding, as prosecutors insist. Winland is facing a nine-count indictment: two counts of rape, each with a predator specification; pandering obscenity involving a minor; a lesser felony count of pandering obscenity involving a minor; illegal use of a minor in nudity- oriented material or performance; two counts of endangering children; gross sexual imposition; and one additional count of endangering children. Murphy's indictment contains seven counts — the same charges, excluding gross sexual imposition and the additional count of endangering children. The Columbus Dispatch: Man tied up in baby caper gets 3 years on probation BY: Holly Zachariah November 13, 2009 MARYSVILLE, Ohio -- A man who signed a birth certificate for a baby he knew he did not father avoided prison yesterday and instead will spend the next three years on probation. John Knasel, 45, of Sidney, had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with records, a third-degree felony. Authorities say he was part of a complex case dating to 1992 that involved two women: one who gave birth to the boy, and one who then falsely claimed the newborn as her own and collected fraudulent welfare benefits. Union County Common Pleas Judge Don Fraser also ordered Knasel to complete 200 hours of community service. Knasel apologized in court, saying he knew back then that what he did was wrong. He said the woman who was to raise the baby was his girlfriend at the time. A week after the boy was born, Knasel found a new girlfriend and moved to West Virginia. He never had contact with the boy. Knasel now lives in Ohio again; he's unemployed and raising a 7-year-old daughter. Authorities say that in 1992, Marie Davis, now 40 and of Bellefontaine, had a child but registered at the hospital and signed the birth certificate under the name of Coriene Ilse, Knasel's girlfriend then. The three lived together at the time. Ilse, now 44 and of Bellefontaine, raised the child as her own and collected more than $62,000 in welfare benefits. She pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, grand theft and tampering with records and was sentenced last month to four years on probation. Ilse also was ordered to pay the government back the money. Davis has pleaded not guilty to charges of Medicaid fraud and tampering with records. The situation came to light in 2005 when Knasel was ordered into court to pay child support and told everyone that he wasn't the father and that Ilse wasn't the mother. The Cincinnati Enquirer: Moms, children stay locked up together in Ohio BY: Sharon Coolidge and Eileen Kelley November 13, 2009 On the campus of the Ohio Reformatory for Women, convicts shuffle across from one spot to the next under watchful eyes. Takeem's mother Takaya Patterson is exempt. In contrast to the other buildings at the sprawling complex surrounded by razor wire and blinding lights, the nursery is colorful and dotted with Sesame Street characters. Takeem's mother wears a prison jumpsuit. Takeem, with cherub cheeks and long slender fingers, sleeps in her arms as she rocks. Just 2 months old, Takeem lives in prison. Under an unusual program, the state of Ohio lets Patterson raise him behind prison walls. Some experts say that approach is best for both mothers and their children because the women are less likely to commit crimes when they get out, and children get to be with their moms during critical periods of their development. One critic calls the program a waste of taxpayer money and says prison should be a place for punishment, not somewhere to raise babies. Either way, one thing is not in dispute: the number of women in prison has skyrocketed in the last three decades, and most female prisoners are single mothers. In Ohio, being a prison mom is a full-time job for up to 18 months. In Kentucky, infants can bond with their mothers, but for only a few hours at time. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of women behind bars has increased 843 percent in the last three decades, growing from 12,279 in 1977 to 115,779 last year. In that same time, Ohio saw a 577 percent increase in female inmates, from 577 in 1977 to 3,905 last year; Kentucky experienced a whopping 1,573 percent increase from 139 in 1977 to 2,326 last year. With so many more women landing behind bars, who is left to take care of the children? In a 2004 survey, 84 percent of imprisoned parents said they left their child with the child's other parent. The rest went elsewhere - including 3 percent who went into foster care, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Parent in Prison and their Minor Children. Ohio is one of nine states with prison nurseries. Guidelines are stringent for Ohio's program. Since opening in 2001, 137 women have raised babies behind bars. Still, the benefits are indisputable, said Terry Collins, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Bonding key issue Establishing an early bond between the infant and mother is imperative to childhood development. And for the mothers, having that strong bond with their children tends to be the impetus to play it straight on the outside. "It is well known that family support and family bonds are among the top factors that increase a returning citizen's chance of having a successful re-entry," Collins said. Ohio set up a nursery in 2001. Indiana followed last year. Kentucky has a nursery, but children are not permitted to live with their mothers. The Women's Prison Association, a New York-based agency that advocates for women with criminal records, recently studied babies behind bars and urged states to allow moms to serve sentences in the community or to start nurseries similar to Ohio's. "I think people are realizing more and more women are going to prison and the reality is that women are mothers," said Chandra Villanueva, of the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice, part of the Women's Prison Association. "It makes sense to keep mothers and children together and give them the foundation to build a healthy relationship with their child." Earlier this year, Villanueva released a report that found that women who participate in prison nursery programs are less likely to commit another crime, and their babies get to be with their mom during critical development months. Birth of a child/program The idea for an Ohio prison nursery was hatched in 2000 by two local women, former state Rep. Cheryl Winkler, R-Cincinnati, and convict Barbara Turner, a former nurse convicted of prescription drug offenses. Turner was pregnant when entering Marysville and successfully fought to have the baby's father present at her birth. Turner wasn't allowed to keep her daughter with her. Winkler proposed the nursery program, which was passed into law and officially got under way in 2001. Turner has since been released. That program allows Takeem to live in prison.Patterson, 29, is one of 11 women currently in the program. A judge gave her a deal in 2003: Pay back the more than $5,000 she stole from her employer, Fifth Third Bank, and be monitored with five years probation. In the end, Patterson didn't make good on the deal. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Ralph "Ted" Winkler, the son of one of the program's originators, sent Patterson to prison in April. At the time, she was six months pregnant and a mother of a 3-year-old girl, Tiyann. While standing before the judge again, the reality stung. "In that courtroom I was thinking about my daughter, my family," Patterson said. Tiyann went to live with her grandmother. Patterson went to a Franklin County prison because it was close to a Columbus hospital where she would give birth. On June 25, with two guards at her side, Patterson was loaded into a van for the 10-minute ride to the hospital. Twelve hours later, she gave birth to 3-pound, 11- ounce Takeem. She left the hospital three days later. Takeem stayed another 11 days while he gained weight and then he joined his mother in prison. "I wanted to be with him and bond with him, and I didn't want to put that stress on my mom," she said. Life inside prison Patterson and her son share a room with another convict and her son. Two beds and two cribs leave little space in the small room. The Ohio program can handle up to 20 mothers. Of Ohio's 3,000 female prisoners, 69 were pregnant, officials said recently. Some babies are destined for the nursery program. Others will be released before giving birth. The rest will have to surrender their child to care outside prison walls. To qualify in Ohio, mothers have to be scheduled for release before their child turns 18 months old to be eligible for the program. Experts think that children that age will have no memory of where they spent their early life. If there is such as being lucky behind bars, Patterson says she was because she met the criteria. "There are a lot of mothers here who don't get to be with their children," she said. "I want him with me, and I think he wants to be with me." She vows she's going to make a fresh start when she's released in April. Programs for convicts and their babies are relatively new, and little research about their effectiveness has been done, according to Villanueva of the Woman's Institute. In her study, she found Ohio prison officials looked at the program at its five-year mark and found 118 mothers had participated, with just 3 percent of the women committing another crime within three years of being released. Of the general female prison population 30 percent commit another crime. The Ohio nursery is run on grants and federal programs for the poor that these mothers would have received even if they weren't incarcerated. A $69,000 federal grant pays for most of the program, nearly half of which is paid to a visiting pediatrician. Mothers also have the option of seeking child support from the child's father and the prison has a case manager to help with that paperwork. As with all convicts who give birth behind bars, taxpayers pick up the hospital tab. "The citizens of Ohio should not be paying for this (program)," said state Rep. Joe Uecker, R-Miami Township, a former law enforcement officer who worked at several area police departments. "With the economy the way it is - and even if it were good - these women made a mistake and they need to be held accountable." Uecker said he researched the program earlier this year when looking at the prison budget and said he found nothing to prove it was best for the child. Foster care, he said, would be a better option than prison life for an infant. "You first have to convince me it's best for the child and then convince me this is more than a burden borne on those of us who work for a living," Uecker said. "I would be hard pressed to vote for this if we were given an opportunity to." Collins of the Ohio Department of Corrections said he's proud of the program and called it money well spent. "These women will be coming back into the community," Collins said. "Is it better for them to have a program where they can learn how to be a good mother and care for their children, or have that child given up to foster care where maybe we're starting another cycle of people coming to prison 18 years down the road? "These are programs that teach responsibility and hold people accountable and give them skills they don't have and hopefully makes then law-abiding citizens instead of tax burdens," he said. Mothers for a day At the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Woman, a line of women all dressed in drab khaki jumpsuits stop and stare as three infants are carted past. A little girl with-doe shaped eyes and Minnie Mouse ears is really starting to resemble her prison mother, some comment. The children are ushered into the chapel where three inmate mothers sit anxiously on hard chairs waiting. "No bottle today?" asked prisoner Erica Bowman, 23, as she unpacks a sack lunch that was brought in with her son Tayland by his caretaker Cheryl Dugan. "No bottle," Dugan boasted of the soon to be 1-year-old's development. "Wow, I am so proud of you," Bowman cooed to her son. Dugan has cared for Tayland since he was 2 days old. She and Bowman met through Operation Open Arms just two weeks before Tayland was born. The group, a licensed private child-placement service, operates on the principle that children shouldn't have to pay for their mothers' crimes. The program does not receive any state or federal money. Of the roughly 650 woman doing time at the prison between 80 to 90 percent are mothers. About 100 babies are born each year to mothers at this prison. In August alone, there were close to 70 pregnant prisoners, officials said. The correctional center is Kentucky's prison that allows pregnant inmates, so it also houses pregnant woman who would otherwise be sent to jail, as jails don't usually have the staff to care for pregnancies. The prison allows children ages 3 and under to visit with their mothers for two hours on bonding days, which can be several times a week. About a fifth of the prison moms have children in that age range, but only a handful see their children with regularity because of the time, money and the distances the children's caretakers have to drive to Shelby County to visit the moms. "These children did not commit the crime," said Laura Carpenter, the executive director of Operation Open Arms, one of two private groups that cares for children of prisoners and brings the babies to see their mothers weekly. Mothering is fairly foreign to Bowman. Nurturing and raising her children, she admitted, took a back seat to the frenetic lifestyle crack cocaine fueled when she was living on the outside. Tayland is Bowman's fourth child. The third was born addicted to the drug and was taken away from her. Bowman also relinquished her parental rights to her two oldest children to family during her crack cocaine days. Now, Bowman says she's done: Done having children; done with dope. She said her bubbly son with a carpet of dark hair is her inspiration to get her life together so she can provide for her him on the outside. As Bowman headed to a microwave to heat up her son's lunch, prison mom Shanise Washington, 30, worked on her daughter's hair: changing it from a single ponytail to two puffs of hair above her ears. A judge allowed Washington, a repeat felon, to stay out of prison until after her daughter was born. Washington left Ke'syna Burgess with her husband. After five months, he said it was too much. She never saw her child during those months, nor for a long time after. Ke'syna was eventually handed over to Operation Open Arms, and over the past year Washington has been getting to know her daughter, who will be 3 this month. Ke'syna is shy around her mother. The two played dolls in a small nursery as another pregnant prisoner filled out forms so that her soon-to-be born child will be placed with a volunteer caregiver through Operation Open Arms. "(Washington) is going to do the right thing," said prison Chaplain Kenny Talbott. Seeing Ke'syna with regularity keeps Washington motivated. "She inspires me," she said of her daughter. Washington finished her GED and has been taking classes in carpentry. She's supposed to stay in prison for another 15 years, but Washington, like Bowman, thinks she'll be out sooner rather than later. And should she get out? "I am never going to wear khaki again," she said. Dayton Daily News: Mother sodomized adopted daughter, teen testifies in rape trial BY: Valerie Lough November 13, 2009 SPRINGFIELD — Vonda Ferguson shook her head as her former adopted daughter, now 19, testified to an alleged sexual assault with a toilet plunger handle in Ferguson’s trial Thursday, Nov. 12. Ferguson, 46, is standing trial in Clark County Common Pleas Court on 32 charges of child endangering, permitting child abuse, felonious assault and rape. The 19-year-old woman testified Thursday that Ferguson sodomized her with the plunger handle as a form of punishment. “I don’t remember what I did...it was for something I wasn’t supposed to do,” the teen said. Defense attorney Jim Marshall called the girl’s credibility into question, asking her to explain inconsistencies in stories she told various authorities after being removed from the Ferguson home. “I don’t remember, there were so many people I talked to,” the girl said. Ferguson is accused of abusing her five adopted children — hitting them with hammers and sticks until they bled, forcing them to eat excrement and burning them with irons — between 2000 and 2004. Her husband, James, 49, was convicted on similar charges last year and sentenced to 65 years in prison. The children, now 14 through 19 years old, were taken out of the home in 2004 and the couple gave up custody in 2005. Testimony is expected to resume Friday in Judge Richard O’Neill’s court at 9 a.m.
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