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Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prosecutors charge Illinois parents after children were found bound, blindfolded

June 14, 2012, 9:49 a.m. Updated June 14, 2012, 6:39 p.m.

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Adolfo Gomez, 52, receives several court documents as he waits for a first appearance Thursday at the Douglas County Jail. Gomez and his wife, Deborah Gomez, 43, are each facing two counts of child abuse and five counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. Adolfo Gomez is also facing one count of felony obstruction. The couple are from Northlake, Ill.

Adolfo Gomez, 52, receives several court documents as he waits for a first appearance Thursday at the Douglas County Jail. Gomez and his wife, Deborah Gomez, 43, are each facing two counts of child abuse and five counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. Adolfo Gomez is also facing one count of felony obstruction. The couple are from Northlake, Ill.

Deborah Gomez reads through court documents as she waits for a first appearance at the Douglas County Jail on Thursday, June 14, 2012. Gomez, along with her husband, Adolfo Gomez, are each facing two counts of child abuse and five counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. Adolfo Gomez is also facing one count of felony obstruction.

Deborah Gomez reads through court documents as she waits for a first appearance at the Douglas County Jail on Thursday, June 14, 2012. Gomez, along with her husband, Adolfo Gomez, are each facing two counts of child abuse and five counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. Adolfo Gomez is also facing one count of felony obstruction.

Douglas County prosecutors on Thursday charged two Illinois parents with inflicting “cruel or inhumane corporal punishment” on two of their young children found Wednesday blindfolded with their hands bound behind them in the parking lot of Walmart in west Lawrence.

Adolfo Gomez Jr., 52, and Deborah Martha Gomez, 43, both of Northlake, Ill., face two counts each of child abuse and five counts of aggravated child endangerment. Adolfo Gomez is also charged with one obstruction count because he was accused of resisting Lawrence police officers who subdued him with a Taser Wednesday morning near the family’s vehicle outside the store, 550 Congressional Drive. All counts are felonies.

Thursday’s bond hearing revealed few additional details about the case other than what police had provided, and Sgt. Trent McKinley, a police spokesman, said detectives were still investigating the case trying to learn more about why the young children had their hands bound. Three older children, ages 12, 13 and 15, were also in the older Chevrolet Suburban that police said had experienced trouble Monday evening as the family was traveling to Arizona. That’s how they ended up in the Walmart parking lot.

Officers were called to Walmart about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday after a customer saw a boy with his hands behind his back near the vehicle on the west side of the parking lot. Police discovered both the 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl were blindfolded and had their hands bound behind them.

“This is a very unusual and disturbing type of event. It’s certainly not something that many of us have seen,” McKinley said. “None of us know what would have happened if we didn’t have an intervention by the person who was shopping at Walmart who not only saw something but called the police.”

Charges

Assistant District Attorney James McCabria said he could not comment about specific facts of the case but that prosecutors believed the events fell in line with statutory language in the charges. That included the mention of “cruel or inhumane corporal punishment” on the child abuse charges.

In the aggravated child endangerment counts, the couple are accused of recklessly causing or permitting their five children to be placed in a situation in which their “life, body or health may be endangered.”

Pro-tem Judge James George agreed to set bond for Adolfo and Deborah Gomez at $50,000 each, but there was no discussion of either defendant’s criminal history during the hearing. McCabria said he could not comment on the couple’s criminal history.

“We based (the bond request) on the facts and circumstances of the incident,” he said.

Both Adolfo and Deborah Gomez, who appeared in court separately via video from the Douglas County Jail, said little during their hearing, and they did not protest the requested bond amount. George also ordered them not to have contact with each other or any of their children if they post bond.

George appointed defense attorney Elbridge Griffy to represent Adolfo Gomez and Angela Keck for Deborah Gomez. They are scheduled to appear in court again next Thursday in front of District Judge Paula Martin.

The child abuse counts each carry potential prison sentences of 31 months to 136 months. The aggravated child endangerment and obstruction counts carry sentences of five months to 17 months, although they are presumptive probation unless a defendant has at least two past person-felony convictions.

Protective custody

Police have said that Adolfo Gomez is the father and Deborah Gomez is the mother of the children. Officers said both are from Northlake, Ill., a Chicago suburb. Jail records list the mother’s address as another suburb, Bensenville, Ill., but McKinley said that could be because the parents were uncooperative. Douglas County Jail staff members likely pulled the address from a form of identification, he said.

After officers used a Taser to subdue Adolfo Gomez on Wednesday, they arrested Deborah Gomez inside the store without incident.

Medics checked out the children at the scene, but they were not hospitalized, McKinley said.

After the two younger children were taken into police custody, the three older children initially refused to leave the Suburban until they were later taken into protective custody as well. For now, all five children have been placed in temporary protective custody, pending a court hearing, McKinley said. Police and social workers are working with Illinois social workers. He said they had identified extended family members for the children. During the process a judge could determine if any family members could safely take custody of the children.

“Family members are usually a less traumatic type of placement for children,” McKinley said. “I just don’t know at this point in time what the family’s dynamic is.”

A Chicago NBC affiliate on Thursday quoted a neighbor, Kathy Grotefend, who said she encountered Adolfo and Deborah Gomez last week as they were selling all of their belongings in preparation for the end of the world.

“She said she believes it’s the end of the world and they don’t need this materialistic stuff,” Grotefend told the TV station.

McKinley said detectives were working on answering more questions as well.

“We’re trying to create a time line of what has occurred in past days and weeks with this family,” he said. “We would like to attempt to determine what the adults’ intentions were with the children and as to why the children were bound.”

This isn’t the first time the couple has faced legal troubles, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper reported that Deborah Gomez pleaded guilty in 1998 to misdemeanor endangering the life of a child and admitted leaving two young sons, who were 2 and 3 at the time, home alone for eight hours one night several months earlier at the family’s apartment in Naperville, Ill. In 2001 prosecutors in DuPage County brought her back to court to force her to comply with counseling and parenting classes.

The newspaper also said Adolfo Gomez served less than 3 years for burglary and theft convictions in 1984 and that he spent 12 days in jail in Illinois earlier this year related to a DUI conviction.

Comments

consumer1 2 years, 6 months ago

This intervention by the citizen and LPD may have saved the lives of these two younger children. GREAT JOB citizen and LPD...

frankfussman 2 years, 6 months ago

The parents were just trying to keep the two younger kids from wandering around and getting lost or hurt.

Irenaku 2 years, 6 months ago

Eh...I hope you are joking, and if you are, that is really low. My +100 reply was for consumer1's post, btw.

bevy 2 years, 6 months ago

Nice to see somebody cared enough to do something! One thing the article doesn't mention - are they even sure those kids belong to those people?

ohjayhawk 2 years, 6 months ago

From the previous article linked above, it sounds like they are working under the premise that they are related to the kids.

"The man and woman, who police believe are the children’s biological parents,"

sickofdummies 2 years, 6 months ago

If that is the case, then the parents allowed it. It appears the father was in the suburban with them. Either way, its abuse.

2bluforu 2 years, 6 months ago

The father was standing outside the truck and the child was sitting on the cement parking lot when observed. The father was pacing back and forth and knew exactly what was going on.

Stuart Evans 2 years, 6 months ago

that makes perfect sense in a completely nonsensical way...

in before the bible thumpers come get me; yes, I know your particular religion isn't like that, and would never promote such things...

kef104 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the link. It has much more information about the parents than the LJW currently has.

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 6 months ago

I feel sorry for the kids and the parents. So often these kinds of things involve religion, at least the way in which the parents interpret it.

Instead of being in prison, local ministers need to help these people. They could all have a decent life ahead of them if they get help now, whatever their form of religion may be.

This isn't the first time this has happened. In California last year, thousands of people gave up all their savings to a church in Oakland, which created billboards all over the state. And the end result...the day passed without being the end of the world, and all these people lost their savings and in many cases houses. And it 's happened many times elsewhere in the country as well.

George Lippencott 2 years, 6 months ago

perhaps more information before we speculate?

Enlightenment 2 years, 6 months ago

I think religion is the last thing they need right now. It appears religion got them into this situation (based on their neighbor's comments).

Pastor_Bedtime 2 years, 6 months ago

Padlocks on bedroom doors, and buying a tarp and a baseball bat? Sounds like he had more than mere control issues. He was on a mission....

Tink1227 2 years, 6 months ago

Where is a baseball bat, tarp, and duct tape mentioned? I know that I heard a rumor about it on the radio, but I've not seen anything official.

Pastor_Bedtime 2 years, 6 months ago

It was mentioned in one of the comments following the 6/14 story....

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

"“cruel or inhumane corporal punishment” on two of their young children found Wednesday blindfolded with their hands bound behind them in the parking lot of Walmart in west Lawrence."

Was it cruel or inhumane corporal punishment when the police cuffed the defendant's hands behind their backs? I'm not defending the loony parents, but the authorities probably should find a better premise for the charges than the same action they take every time they haul someone off to the stripey hole. "Equal protection" has the word "equal" in it for a reason.

As for the parent's, which came first? The god-belief or the psychosis?

Topple 2 years, 6 months ago

I think the difference is the age of the individuals the binds are being placed on. I don't think you'll find any parents being arrested for leaving a 16 year old alone at home for 8 hours, but you do it with a 3 year old, that changes things.

jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

The state has various powers and authority that individuals don't have.

It can arrest, incarcerate, etc.

So, it's a false equivalence to equate police handcuffing somebody with a parent tying their kids hands behind their backs.

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

Can a parent not arrest their child (IE make them get into the car) and incarcerate them (IE ground them)?

jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

No.

Making them get into the car isn't arresting them, and grounding them isn't incarceration.

If a parent put their kids into a cage, like a jail cell, I bet they'd be arrested and convicted of child abuse, don't you think?

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

If making them getting in the car is not analogous to arrest, what happens when the kid refuses to get in the car? Do the parents leave them and drive off or force them into the car?

What's the difference between a bedroom and a holding cell if you can't leave? Are you going to be the one that tells parents they can't send their children to their rooms for acting up?

jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

Arrest is something that the state does when people break our laws.

Making a kid get into a car is something parents do for a variety of reasons.

If you really don't see a difference between a jail cell and a bedroom, I can't help you with that.

But, I will say that I'm uncomfortable with the amount of power and ability to "discipline" kids that we grant parents - I'd like to limit that a bit more than we currently do.

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

No, I don't. But if it isn't cruel punishment for one person to have their hands bound behind their backs, why is it cruel punishment for another? Once again, assuming the restraints aren't tight to the point they cause pain or cause damage. Also, there have been cases of the police cuffing children. Is that any different than the parents tying their children's hands behind their backs?

I think they have a better case concerning the blindfolding because the child might get up and run in front of a car because he/she can't see the vehicle coming.

I can't stress it enough that I'm not defending the parents or condemning the justice system. All I'm doing is pointing out the government is using a tactic they use to bolster their case, at least concerning public opinion.

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

"I think cuffing and blindfolding children probably causes some psychological damage"

Probably so. I imagine watching their parents divorce one another does too. Should divorce be made illegal because we think it harms the children?

bad_dog 2 years, 6 months ago

A person who is handcuffed has been arrested for suspicion of committing a crime and is detained by legal authority. Cuffing behind the back both helps control the arrested person and protect the arresting officers from harm. A child that has been tied up by their parents is generally not accused of committing a crime and is only so detained by parental authority. In addition, an arrestee is generally released from the handcuffs after placement in a holding cell or during processing in a secured area as long as they are not creating a disturbance. How long were the children tied up?

Let's not forget these were children ages 5 & 7, so yes, I believe it is cruel or inhumane to not only tie them up, but also to blindfold them. They must have been terrified and/or emotionally numbed by the experience.

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

"I believe it is cruel or inhumane"

We can all believe what we want. Law isn't quite that easy. What statute addresses blindfolding and tying up your children?

jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

Various child abuse statutes probably cover that, I would imagine.

bad_dog 2 years, 6 months ago

"What statute addresses blindfolding and tying up your children?"

While I neither tie up or blindfold my children, the answer to your question is the ones underlying the offenses they were charged with. It's not that complicated.

Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

You guys are taking it wrong. I'm not defending the parents, nor am I condemning the police or the DA for their actions. All I am saying is that when people hear "children bound and blindfolded" there is a kneejerk reaction and we just know these are terrible humans that are child abusers and should be sent to prison. But so far, all we have been told is about the bounds and blindfolds, which I don't know are intrinsically illegal.

You may not think it's complicated, but a good defense attorney will make it very much so. Hopefully the DA won't find it as simple as you do and prepare to prosecute the case appropriately.

budtugly, phelps is tenacious, but all he cares about is his fictional god's opinion of homosexuality. I have a much broader range.

Whoever you are, you can join in or not. That is your choice.

Armored_One 2 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm, you really want to go down the road as to why it's permissible in one instance but not in the other?

The law enforcement officer is not acting as a 'parental figure' when executing his or her duties as an officer of the law. Handcuffs are meant to not only protect themselves, but the populace at large from the individual that is being handcuffed. They are also a very humane method of controlling said individual, since it allows for a modicum of leverage to be applied that will cause a much larger amount of discomfort to the handcuffed person.

As adults, we accept the role that police officers play in the enforcement of the laws that govern us, be they local, state or federal. As adults, we understand that the use of handcuffs are part and parcel in terms of accepting responsibility for 'breaking' the aforementioned laws.

Children, on the other hand, due to the nature of how their psyche develops, have a much different view of their parental units than adults do of police officers. The random police officer does not inspire the emotional connection that a parental unit does for the child. Children instinctively expect parental units to protect them from the 'scary things' in the world, and restraining them with duct tape and blindfolding them does NOT engender the concept of protecting them.

The two concepts are completely incapable of being compared, so do stop trying, Liberty. Just as the division between punishment and abuse are clearly defined, not just in law but in reality, the division between enforcement of laws and parental authority is just as clearly defined.

Matthew Herbert 2 years, 6 months ago

Allow me to recommend Forced sterilization. Perhaps instead of (or in addition to) sex offender registries we need creep-o fanatic registration. I have a right to know which of my neighbors have their kids tied up in the basement if for no other reason than to get a heads up on the closeout 'end of days' garage sale. Maybe if they hadn't sold all their stuff they wouldn't have had to stop at Wal-Mart.

HotToddy69 2 years, 6 months ago

Northlake, Ill? Are they sure that's where they're from. It sounds like these people are from Topeka, KS.

Irenaku 2 years, 6 months ago

O.K. I have a question that has been on my mind for some time now, and if anyone can (seriously) provide insight, that would be great: These people obviously do not care about their children's basic physical needs (food, water, shelter), let alone their emotional and mental needs (nurturing, love, support, stability, etc.). There are other people I have seen who have children, and while they have not necessarily endangered them as these two people have, they exhibit resentment for their children, for having to care for them, they treat them like pets, have no nurturing interaction, are not involved in their education, care nothing for their feelings, interests, well-being, etc. YET...these people, as well as the Illinois couple continue to have children...multiple children. WHY??? I seriously do not understand it. How difficult is it to just get your tubes tied or get a vasectomy? Why do they continue this? They could be free from all this "stress" of kids if they would STOP HAVING THEM. Any thoughts????

dipweed 2 years, 6 months ago

Getting a vasectomy or tubes tied implies forethought and responsibility. Theses so-called parents are missing any sense of responsibility.

Pastor_Bedtime 2 years, 6 months ago

Maybe they were proscribed by their faith to spawn as many kids as possible. Mustn't interfere with God's plan!

phelliott 2 years, 6 months ago

Former neighbors in Illinois said they never saw any children at the house. The Mother has a history of child neglect and the Man has a long arrest record.

Kat Christian 2 years, 6 months ago

To prevent these sort of horrors to children I feelt here should be a manditory parenting class in high school and first year of college. People go off have sex - have children they can't take care of, much less know how to take care of. We need to educate our young people of the responsibilities of raising another human being. It won't complete iradicate the negligence of adult caring for children, but it could minimize it. We've dumbed down our schools whereas our children are less prepared to enter into society as responsible adults. The family unit is breaking down because of it - therefore no roll models. The court's actions only put a band-aid of this problem and its never going to be resolved unless we educate. God help those children, becuase it doesn't look like the law has helped much, if that mother already endangered her boys by leaving them alone. What women with a sane and intelligent mind would do that? The key words here are sane and intelligent which obvisously this mother is neither. Hope they keep them locked in for a couple years and away from those children then maybe they may have a chance in life.

justoneperson 2 years, 6 months ago

I think it's not a bad idea, but can you imagine the poo storm that would erupt if any school even mentioned it?

I'd imagine that there are a lot of parents that would question the values taught in said class...on top of that terrible parents wouldn't exactly want their children learning what good parenting actually is...

Matthew Herbert 2 years, 6 months ago

A lot of people who are producing rapidly didn't go to college- thus benefits of pist-secondary minimizes

Matthew Herbert 2 years, 6 months ago

Oh the joys of typing on a phone; pardon the rampant typos

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 6 months ago

I think the Gomezes should claim that it is part of their religion to bind their children while on road trips, and that the police are interfering with their religious liberty.

I think binding children could be easily justified by statements in the bible and koran.

Ekruse89 2 years, 6 months ago

You are coming up with ways for these people to get out of any punishment when these kids lives were at stake? Maybe you should enlighten yourself a little more on reality rather than the supernatural. If it was the parents are the other kids that did bound this children up, it's still the "guardians" fault. They we're responsible for those kids and if they wanted anything to do with them they sure as hell would not have them tied in a Walmart parking lot. I don't care what religion you are, this is not morally just any way you look at it. Supernatural beliefs does not provide justification for this sort of negligence and even if it did you might want to get your priorities in check.

thebigspoon 2 years, 6 months ago

How sad. There are plenty of people out there who try but can't have children and then there are idiots like this who don't deserve the ones they have...

pace 2 years, 6 months ago

Thank god , they were stopped. Thanks to the woman who called and the police.

Richard Payton 2 years, 6 months ago

KCMO 103.7 FM kept reporting this couple was from Lawrence. This proves talk radio doesn't always report the facts correctly.

conlawgrad 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't disagree with bringing charges here. Cleary, that has to happen. And of course people have to be charged within a certain amount of time or they can be released. I understand and accept those principles. But geesh...this case sort of goes to show you that the charges and everything else were brought in a rush. No criminal history in the bond hearing??? No new information gathered? I mean, if these people had a little bit of money and family, they'd probably be able to get out. A rush to judgment about what charges to bring kind of plays into prosecutor's hands because they can charge anybody with anything until they get more information.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 6 months ago

This whole affair simply befuddles the mind. First of all, why is this "family" (if indeed they are all related) so large? Oh I forgot some kooky religions shun birthcontrol and abortion. How about personal responsibility? Making so many babies that they could not support or house or feed? And then there kis the mental illness that some people seem to suffer when it comes to "Bible teaching" and downright fraudulant religious "ministers" who are only seeking to line their pockets with other people's money for the "Kingdom of God"

Seems "God" gets blamed for the stupidity and ignorance of some of his creatures.

I am counfounded by stories like this. The Diving Power of the Universe (whatever you want to call Him (or Her) gave us the capacity to think, plan, and prosper. Why is it that some fall so completely short of their capabilities??

shorttrees 2 years, 6 months ago

QUOTE: "The newspaper reported that Deborah Gomez pleaded guilty in 1998 to misdemeanor endangering the life of a child and admitted leaving two young sons, who were 2 and 3 at the time, home alone for eight hours one night several months earlier at the family’s apartment in Naperville, Ill."

Are there more kids out there belonging to this couple? Or is it just lousy math/lousy reporting somewhere along the line? 1998 was 14 years ago, so the kids involved then would 16 & 17 or 17 & 18 if it occurred in '97 and was prosecuted in '98.

Carmalee Winebrinner 2 years, 6 months ago

I'd venture a guess that it was the two oldest children, or else they have an older child who is out on his own now.

tbaker 2 years, 6 months ago

Thank God someone decided to get involved and report this.

These two should be sterilized and publically flogged before going to prison.

rgh 2 years, 6 months ago

Just by looking at her picture it looks like she could use a little support if you know what I mean.

Clark Coan 2 years, 6 months ago

They could just say they were playing old Blind Man's Bluff.

Kat Christian 2 years, 6 months ago

If these parents are crazy enough to sell all their belongings and uproot their kids like this and claim the world is ending - my God what would they have done to these children? Kill them - then kill themselves? I just think the Walmart Lady came just at the right time. A Guardian Angel was looking over those children. I hope they get help and find a safe and happy home to finish growing up in.

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