By Tiffiny Ruegner
Sometimes I wonder who the “authorities” are who release children into violent hands like Frankie Williams.
A couple who regained custody of their toddler daughter after they were suspected of beating her so badly she was left with cerebral palsy now face charges in her death. Stephanie and Frankie Williams face child abuse charges after their 21-month-old daughter, Anayah, passed away at the weekend – just three weeks after she returned to them following abuse concerns. On Friday night, authorities responded to a report that the child was not breathing at the couple’s home in Frederick, Maryland and she was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Frankie Williams, 24, told authorities he punched his daughter repeatedly while his wife was at work, according to investigators, and when his wife returned home, she did not call for help for six hours. When she told her husband she needed to call the doctor, ‘he said no because child protective services would get involved,’ according to court documents, NBC Washington reported. A day after her death, her father was charged with child abuse resulting in death and other offenses after the little girl was allegedly found to have marks and bruises across her body.
He ‘stated he punched the victim hard, and his description of hard was hard enough to hurt an adult’, according to court documents.
He also allegedly admitted to assaulting the child in 2012, leaving her with a fractured skull and rib, and admitted to beating their other daughter, who is five months old.
Despite his alleged confession, his 21-year-old wife defended her husband as she spoke to WHAG the day after his arrest.
‘Whatever was going through his mind I know he wasn’t in his right mind when he was doing these things,’ Stephanie Williams said.
On Monday, she was charged with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. It comes just weeks after the child was returned to her parents, whose other child is in foster care. State’s Attorney Charlie Smith told NBC that authorities had suspected the parents had beat Anayah after she was born in 2012 – leaving her with cerebral palsy – but could not prove it. Smith said doctors were ‘convinced that it was no accident, but we couldn’t pin it on anybody’.
I knew parents who had neglected their child so much that his malnutrition resulted in permanent retardation. There is a balancing act between the sovereignty of parents and the safety of children. I know we can all say the authorities were wrong giving this child back to their parents but if the tables were turned would we say that authorities have no right withholding their child from their parents. The question is are we ready to give up our sovereignty as a parent into the hands of potential parental rights abusers called the “authorities”? Sometimes freedom is difficult to accept when a horrific tragedy like this occurs but consider the many other lives saved by liberty.