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My wife and I bought a beautiful four bedroom, three level, single family home in 2006.  We moved in from an apartment that was under a quarter a mile away. Our five children, two boys aged seven and one, and three girls aged fourteen, six and two all moved in with us.

It was April/May of 2007 just before school closed. One evening I came home and the younger children told me that our oldest daughter had gone to the neighbor’s garden during her absence, uprooted her flowers and planted them in our garden. I saw the newly planted flower plants but she denied the fact. I spanked her and there were marks on her skin. The following day the social worker at the school got to know about the altercation. She was taken by the police and they opened up an inquiry. The police came home while I was at work and they left a message that I report at the Station which I did immediately. I wrote my statement and gave the facts as they unfolded on the material day. My wife also wrote her statement. I was the ONLY one who spanked her and my daughter attested to this. My daughter was taken to a foster home.

After two days or thereabout the child protection officers came home and took ALL the remaining children. I have never stopped crying from this incident, permanently etched in my memory as if it happened yesterday.

The child protection officers interrogated the four younger children and later told us that the children said that my wife pinched them on their hands and rest of the body and that she was fond of beating them with a sandal.

I was asked by the police to report at the Station which I voluntarily did, and was promptly bundled into a police car, driven to jail and charged with “malicious punishment of a child” a misdemeanor. I stayed in jail overnight, appeared in the adult court the following day and the judge gave me a free bond to appear in court for subsequent hearings.

Both of us were charged at the Juvenile Court with “child abuse”. My wife and I worked in health care, she as a Nursing Assistant and I as a Personal Care Assistant. The Department of Health and Human Services quickly advised our employers that we were no longer eligible to work in the Health Care System.  And that we could be considered to be licensed after SEVEN years. I was ordered to take a psychology test [which now I suspect to be Minnesota Multi-phase Personality Inventory -MMPI test to determine the personality traits and psychopathology. I was also told to undergo Anger Management training. We were paralyzed. I politely obliged and attended all scheduled sessions without fail.

Our children were all placed in foster homes and we were allowed one visit per week at the child protection offices. They were denied the opportunity to go to church on Sabbath and worship as is our tradition and their grandparents tradition and as stipulated in the Fourth Commandment. Church members and our pastor could come to sing hymns to the children and tell Bible stories of men and women of valor.

My case at the adult court was dispensed with and I was sentenced to a fine of $50.00 with a 364 days [got credit for the overnight stay in jail] probation.

The county made arrangements to drive the children to and from school for the rest of the remaining days of that school year.

At the Juvenile Court the judge found both of us guilty of child abuse. I for spanking our daughter and my wife for ‘ostensibly’ pinching and spanking with a sandal.

After about two and a half months the four younger children were returned home. Our eldest daughter opted to stay in foster care.

Now in retrospective our seven year old son was in talented and gifted class but after this ordeal he showed signs of slackness in his studies. We prayed hard and talked to them about the nightmare now that we were in the light of day. Thanks to our training as professional teachers, my wife as an Elementary school teacher and I as High school Physics/Math teacher.

We lost our jobs tried to make ends meet [we could not even find the ends] by securing jobs with Temp Agencies some of which could last just 2 hours a day. We lost our home because everything was against us. The real estate meltdown and now joblessness.

I found a more secure job in a factory and we moved into an apartment in a new school district.

Our son soon found his potential. In the second semester at the new school he was admitted to the Talented and Gifted children class and at age thirteen was admitted to college to undertake an engineering course.

While it may be true that we were paying retribution for our misdeeds, we had to put on hold our going to school to train as nurses for seven years. That is a long period in this fast paced world. On a balance of probabilities we should have been given a chance as first offenders to have the whole issue handled out of court in order for us to effectively fend for our children and raise them in a climate that we deemed conducive to their growing up.

I have been VERY reluctant to seek for expunging of my record.The reason being that I was so bewildered and it has taken me time to recover.

 First there is the police records. I do not know whether to call them an arrest record because I voluntarily went there before being handcuffed and taken to jail, then the court records both at the Juvenile and adult courts.

I can write over one hundred pages about this incident but in a nutshell I will call it a BAD DREAM – a nightmare. A cultural shock and hope no parent goes through this experience.

Thank you.

User story by Jackson O. in Minnesota

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