Mother jailed for "permitting" husband to abuse child
Not preventing abuse is as bad as committing the crime.
It is common to hear of parents receiving jail time because of direct abuse to children. But after a baby suffered from Shaken Baby Syndrome, a mother was jailed for her husband’s actions.
When Tressie Shaffer left for work one fateful morning, she didn’t expect to hear from her colleague about her baby being murdered by her own husband. What was even more shocking was to find out that she had been sentenced to 18 months in state prison for “permitting child abuse.”
Tressie was sentenced 18 months in jail on the grounds of her “failure to protect” her children from child abuse. In the trial held in October 2018, the prosecution pushed for a life sentence for Tressie for knowingly permitting child abuse. However, the length of her prison sentence was reduced upon the ruling.
Her 5-month-old child, identified in court as Z.R.S, was taken to hospital in December 2016 when the baby was found to have stopped breathing. Doctors later reported that the baby suffered “extensive bleeding on her brain” and “significant retinal hemorrhages.” These horrific injuries meant the child would likely be blind and have to be fed through a feeding tube for the rest of her life.
Investigators concluded that the damage was inflicted by Jason Scott, Tressie’s partner, through violent shaking, also known as shaken baby syndrome. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and is yet to be formally charged. Unemployed, he normally cared for their six children at their home in Oklahoma, United States.
Tressie was shocked, confused, and horrified at the allegations that the children’s father could have hurt their child in such a terrible manner.
“I could never, ever imagine him doing something like that to our daughter. But that’s what they keep saying over and over again.”
The “failure to protect” law means caregivers can be prosecuted who “knows or reasonably should know that the child will be placed at risk of abuse.” Being charged under this law can be punished with the same sanctions as people committing child abuse