This week, Dallas courts are hearing testimony in the sentencing hearing of a woman who pleaded guilty to a horrific case of child abuse against her two year old child, reports The Associated Press.
Elizabeth Escalona pleaded guilty in July to child abuse. She was accused of beating her daughter and gluing her hands to the wall, after the toddler was having trouble potty training.
In addition to gluing her hands to the wall, Escalona reportedly kicked her daughter in the stomach and hit her with a milk jug, writes The Dallas News.
The child, Jocelyn Cedillo, spent one week in the hospital after the attack with bleeding to the brain, a fractured rib and other bruises, reports the AP.
Escalona is facing a possible life sentence in jail. Her five children are in her mother's custody.
The problem of child abuse is a frequent issue not only in criminal law, but in the area of family law. Parents have a right to determine how they want to discipline their children. But the line can easily be crossed.
And sometimes, it's too late.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is frequently called to determine whether that line has been crossed and whether a child is facing neglect or abuse. When the TDFPS determines that there has been child abuse in a home, the first step is usually to remove the child from the home.
If the level of abuse is severe enough to amount to criminal assault, then the abuser could face criminal charges and possible jail time. But under the Texas Family Code, "reasonable discipline" is excluded from the definition of child abuse. And corporal punishment isn't per se child abuse.
The fine line is when there is "observable and material impairment" or "substantial harm."
There really isn't much debate as far as Elizabeth Escalona is concerned. The act of gluing a child's hands to the wall alone is enough to cross the "reasonable discipline" threshold. But the fact that the child suffered bleeding in the brain cinched the case.
And for a woman with five children, some would agree that the Texas authorities are doing the right thing by sending her away for life.
- Find a Houston Family Lawyer (FindLaw)
- Child Abuse Laws (FindLaw)
- La Porte Mom Sues Neighbor Over False Child-Abuse Report (FindLaw's Houston Family Law Blog)