It probably happens thousands of time a day across the nation. A parent takes a child’s cellphone away due to some transgression. While cellphones have become embedded in the culture and society, a child’s possession of a cellphone is still a matter of parental discretion.
The situation becomes more complex when the parents are no longer married, as happens after a divorce, or in this recent case, were never married. The daughter sent a disparaging text of her father’s girlfriend and children. The father took her cellphone away. The daughter went to a friend’s home and called her mother.
The unusual part occurred next. The police arrived at the father’s home and requested the phone. The father refused and when the mother went to pick up the daughter, she asked for the phone and he still refused.
Months later, a Class C petty misdemeanor citation was sent. He decided to go to trial on what he saw as interference with his rights as a father and to discipline his child. The prosecutor then upped the charge to a Class B misdemeanor due to his “lack of cooperation” during the proceeding.
Finally, he was arrested in the middle of the night and handcuffed by officers on his way to the city jail. He claims it is because his daughter’s mother is married to a police officer that this incident was escalated to a criminal prosecution.
A judge found him not guilty of the theft charges, noting the prosecution had not produced sufficient evidence to support the charge. He is filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and prosecutor’s office.
Sadly, the primary result of the case appears to be the permanent rupture of his relationship with his daughter. Her mother is requesting he relinquish his parental rights and the father claims he “can’t ever have a relationship with them.”
According to one report, he was not involved with the daughter until she was seven years of age, and it the fact the parents never married may point to other underlying problems, but when family law matters wind up in criminal court, it likely a sign that someone very deep problems in the relationship.
Source: Washingtonpost.com, “‘I was being a parent’: Father found not guilty after taking away daughter’s iPhone,” Lindsey Bever, January 31, 2016