A divorced father was banned by a Fulton County judge today from maintaining any contact with his 3-year-old son. The father is up against a first-degree child cruelty charge based on his alleged smothering of the boy years ago as an infant.The situation was given a shot in the arm last week when it was brought to the attention of Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall that the man had received visitation rights this past summer in his divorce case.
The child and father had been at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in March of 2007 when a security guard inside the building witnessed the father lay his hand over the child’s mouth and nose. The baby boy reacted by crying, gasping, and frantically moving his arms. The father maintains his son was having a seizure, but law enforcement and the child’s physician were not convinced this was the case.
Upon indictment, the father was classified as unable to stand trial due to mental incapacity. Judge Schwall freed the father on bond so that the man could undergo outpatient psychiatric treatment as long as he maintained out of contact with his son.
Lines blurred this past July when the father and mother divorced. The judge presiding over the divorce in Union County afforded the father rights to visit the boy two hours each week. Visits were to be monitored by the man’s parents, who were granted custody of the child in the divorce.
When judge Schwall caught wind of this – and the fact that the father conveniently resides down the street from his parents – he scheduled an emergency meeting for September 13th to revisit the bond, also at the behest of Fulton County prosecutors. Topics of discussion at the hearing were additional items on the man’s criminal record over the last few years. The father had not claimed incompetence to stand trial for any of those charges, so why receive special treatment for the smothering incident?
Judge Schwall claimed he felt deceived and said he never would have allowed the man out on bond had he known he competently stood trial for other criminal charges in a different county. Investigators also uncovered the father had not been regularly attending treatment sessions per conditions of the bond.
The father’s attorney claimed his client was in stable mental condition and should have visitation rights. The child’s mother had been found unfit to parent in this past summer’s divorce-custody case, which is why custody of the child ultimately went to the father’s parents, the most fit of available options. The now-divorced mother was in attendance at today’s hearing and was satisfied that Judge Schwall was committed to keeping the man away from the boy.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ” Accused father ordered to have no contact with son” 9/16/10