The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Children Left Behind

By Amanda Dickman in News on May 15, 2007 9:25PM

We don't like being the bearer of bad news, but when bad news is essentially all you find, one doesn't have much of a choice. Thus, we were saddened and disgusted to read that a woman in Wilmington was found guilty of accepting $10,000 to look the other way as Lawrence Lee Southwood, a 69-year-old convicted sex offender, molested her disabled, wheelchair-bound 14-year-old daughter. She has been sentenced to 65 months in prison for obstruction of justice and concealing a fugitive. Southwood, who has a history of sexual and violent crimes, was sentenced to 104 years for this molestation case.

2007_5_kid.jpgThe woman's attorney feels that the sentence is too harsh and will appeal for a shorter stay in prison. Her sister also feels that keeping the mother from her children for 5 years is unfair to the children; she spoke on her behalf saying that "it would do the people of the State of Illinois no good to incarcerate this woman and cause further damage to her children."

Furthermore, the children's foster care case manager noted that when the mother was barred from seeing her children for the nine months following her arrest, the children's behavior declined, and there were "regular disturbances." Once the mother was allowed to see her children, their behavior turned around.

Before we continue, we would like to point out that back in 2003 this woman crashed her car while driving drunk, with her children inside, sending two to the hospital with broken bones. Now, we understand that removing a mother (and/or father) from her children would be traumatic, but when the very person the children "need" is the person who has caused them harm, where is the rationalization to keep that person around? And do the kids just need the consistency and comfort of having their mother around, despite the harmful choices she makes?

On the one hand, we angrily shake our fists in the air and severely chastise this woman for the horrible things she has allowed to happen to her kids, insisting that her sentence was not harsh enough. On the other, we are supremely concerned for these children who seem to be in a lose-lose situation.

We have so many questions circling in our head, and very few answers. What do you think? What's the best thing for these kids?

Image via kudzuplanet.