Which parent is guilty?

Again, let’s go back to the fact that children rely on their parents for food, shelter, love, boundaries, discipline and protection.

In 2004, 17 year old Sierra Swann, was pregnant for her second time. She delivered twins in the hosp, a time that was marred by an “incident” with the newborn’s father Nathaniel Broadway, 26, striking her while she was still in the hospital.

Swann did not want to file charges, so no report was made to police. The babies were discharged to home with their parents, but the hospital did make a call to DHS. Somehow the information that Swann’s first child was removed due to abuse was never conveyed. Nor the info that Swann did not get prenatal care during the pregnancy.

It was later found that the home the babies went to was the basement of a vacant rowhouse, with no electricity and no toilet.

Both babies showed signs of abuse- fractured skulls and broken ribs. But it has been shown that both babies died of starvation. When they were found, both weighed 20% less than their birth weight.

Now this alleged mom and dad are in jail, Swann pled guilty to 2 counts of child abuse resulting in a child’s death, and has agreed to tesify against the father. If she testifies against him, she will get 20 years.

Broadway will be standing trial for 1st degree murder in May. He turned down a plea deal which would have resulted in a 30 year sentence, but then asked for it back. The judge denied the request, as it was a one- time offer from prosecutor’s.

Now, as can be expected in this situation. Swann says that Broadway abused the babies, and wouldn’t let her feed them. And that she didn’t, because she was afraid of him. Broadway of course says he wasn’t at home much, as he preferred to be out with his friends. And he says he didn’t abuse the babies.

Now what can we learn from this? If you stand by, knowing that your children are being beaten, if they come to the attention of authorities in any way- you can be blamed for inflicting the abuse. And even if you aren’t blamed for it, you are also going to be charged.

And here, no matter who inflicted the abuse on the babies, no matter who starved the babies- they died. One or both stood by and watched the babies being abused and neglected to the point that they died. If they were not wanted, why didn’t they just give them up for adoption? If they couldn’t provide for them, why didn’t they just put them in foster care and work toward getting decent housing, a job, and work toward being able to provide for them? Can you imagine the pain they went through with broken bones, no treatment, and then to slowly starve to death?

The babies did not have options about being born. They didn’t have a choice about whether or not to stay with these parents. And they did not choose to die, injured and starving. The alleged parents had all of the options here.

But, that isn’t the end of the story. When parents do not do their jobs in caring for their children, there is an agency with the authority and the responsibility to step in. The hospital was concerned enough to call Children’s protection about these babies. Maybe they didn’t give enough info. But even a cursory check would have revealed the housing situation. And there is a chance that they could have found the abuse, the neglect. And they didn’t. Likely, they won’t face murder charges. But, hopefully the citizens there will hold them accountable for the actions they didn’t take. Hopefully, they will make the necessary action to make sure this situation doesn’t happen again. Hopefully.





  1. Steve said,

    February 15, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    I read that he also turned down two plea deals yesterday. It seems as though the prosecutors are offering up a share of different plea deals.

    The mother, at 17 obviously is not mature enough to be having children, and realistically most children are not. The father at 26 seemed to still be into the streets and was not ready for fatherhood.

    Having a child is hard on many couples and takes a fulltime commitment. Couples need to learn how to adapt their lifestyles to fit the children that have come into their lives.

    Programs should be more accessible to give up a child if the single/couple feel that they are at ropes end. Too many children are being lost to parents that are just not fit to be parents.

  2. February 15, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    Steve, welcome to my home.

    There are programs out there. Often they aren’t well publicized, many times they have waiting lists, and people won’t often be referred to them. They have to seek those programs out.

    There are shelters, support groups, headstart programs, domestic violence programs for both the victim and the abuser, anger management programs, and parenting classes in almost every area. Every area has law enforcement, and children’s service’s. And not just to be punitive, they are often excellent resources to find help. Most areas have sex offender programs (and you don’t have to be court ordered to get into them). There are also the private sources like social workers, psychologists, and counselors. Libraries and Dept. of Human Resouces are also sources of information. But the person’s involved have to seek those programs out. No one will force them into such programs, until someone is hurt or killed. Then if they get it at all, it may be behind bars. And most of all, they have to be willing to really work at it.

  3. Steve said,

    February 16, 2006 at 5:07 am

    I meant that while programs exist, most people are not aware of options available to them. I agree you can lead a horse to water but can not make them drink.

    I know one program for new mothers where they can drop off children at a firestation or nearby chuch to relinquent their rights but there are limits to the age and most young people are not even aware that this program exists. Thats what I meant by Programs should be more accessible

    That is one of the major problems is is that the ones needing the help the most are also least likely to seek it out.


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