Friday, January 13, 2006

Home Alone--P.III

From today's Contra Costa Times:

San Ramon parents receive jail time for leaving boys alone

During the morning hearing, Calero (note: the father) pleaded no contest to two counts of felony child endangerment and was sentenced to 270 days in jail. De la Vega (the stepmother) entered the same plea to one misdemeanor count of being accessory to a felony. She received a 180-day jail sentence.

According to Calero's signed affidavit, de la Vega spent the night at her mother's home in Hayward on Dec. 29. He left their San Ramon home early on the morning of Dec. 30 while the boys were still sleeping.

Calero admitted to prosecutors that he often left the house before the boys woke up and came home after they had gone to bed, leaving the 10-year-old boy in charge of his brother, Cashman said.

This "continuous conduct" led to what Cashman called "extremely stiff penalties" compared to other child endangerment cases, especially considering the children were not harmed.

Calero's sister, Patsy Black, told the Times last week that her brother believed the boys' maternal grandmother was coming over to stay with his children. The grandmother, Liberata Holden, had said she never agreed to baby-sit.

Outside the courthouse Thursday, de la Vega's mother, Elvie de la Vega, said her daughter, and the rest of the family, believed the boys' grandmother was baby-sitting.

"Had we known they weren't, we could have taken them," she said.

Child welfare workers have placed the boys in Holden's care.

Because Calero and de la Vega may serve their sentences in home detention -- rather than in jail or prison -- the juvenile dependency court judge would have the option of granting the couple custody of the boys, said Pleasant Hill-based family law specialist Barbara Suskind.

"One of the factors the court will consider is whether the children will be safe there," she said. "It depends on the court's determination that the parents won't make the same mistakes."

I think this is fair and reasonable. I also think the parents were incredibly stupid. I mean, how can you leave your kids home alone while they were sleeping and just trust that someone was coming over to watch them?

Here's hoping that dad and stepmom will go to some parenting classes and will be more responsible in the future. And I hope dad apologizes to his boys.