The Houston Family Law Blog

Houston Parents Charged After Baby Drowns in Bathtub

Two Houston parents are facing homicide charges after their infant son drowned in an accident at their home.

Roderick Cole had placed his two children, a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old, in a bathtub and started filling it with water. Roderick then helped his wife Gabrielle take some clothes to her car in the driveway where the two began to argue, according to the Houston Chronicle. When Roderick returned to the bathroom seven to 10 minutes later, he found the 8-month-old face-down in the tub. The infant was not breathing.

The baby was given CPR and rushed to a hospital, but died two days later, according to the Chronicle. Would the baby have been taken away from his parents had he survived?

Child abuse is a common reason for a child to be taken away from his parents by the state. Abuse can take the form of physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment or neglect.

In general, child abuse is only noticed when a parent brings a child to the hospital, when a child goes to school, or when a caregiver like a babysitter takes care of a child. Some people like doctors and teachers have a legal duty to report suspected abuse, while the rest of us have a moral duty to do the same.

Once abuse has been reported, law enforcement agencies and child protective services conduct an investigation. If there is evidence of abuse and it warrants removing the child from the home, then the child will go into the state's temporary custody or in extreme cases, the state will look to terminate the parents' rights.

In the case of Roderick and Gabrielle Cole's children, there is arguably a whiff of neglect, as the parents were apparently too distracted by their own issues that they forgot to watch their children. On the other hand, this could just be a case of over-tired parents as opposed to a momentary lapse of responsibility.

Whatever happened, what could have been a simple lesson about parental responsibility to be learned has turned into tragedy, and has resulted in homicide charges because of the parents' alleged negligence.

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