An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for a Liberty Twp. couple who gave their adopted 9-year-old son back to Butler County Children Services after raising him since he was three months old.
A grand jury indicted Cleveland and Lisa Cox, 8250 Windsor Trail, on one count of nonsupport of dependants, for “recklessly” abandoning their son on or about Oct. 24. The charge is a first degree misdemeanor and carries with it the threat of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if the couple are found guilty.
Prosecutor Mike Gmoser rarely indicts misdemeanor cases, unless they are part of a felony case, but he said he wants to send a message out loud and clear.
“My position is children in general, not speaking to this specific case, they do not have a return to sender label on their forehead,” he said. “They are their children for always and they have that duty to support and they cannot abandon without consequences.”
The child’s guardian ad litem, Adolfo Olivas, said the “adorable” boy is very “hurt and confused and traumatized.” The parents said the boy has aggressive behaviors and will not agree to get help, according to Olivas.
“The parents were willing to get help but the child wasn’t. That just is nonsense to me,” Olivas said. “A parent is a parent and a 9-year-old is a 9-year-old. If your 9-year-old needs help, you get him help. It is not a question of a 9-year-old wanting it or not.”
While the boy is now receiving the care he needs, he doesn’t understand what has happened to him, according to Olivas.
Olivas said he considers this a form of child abuse that will also affect the boy’s siblings.
“What does this do to these other kids? You have these siblings and one goes away and doesn’t ever come back because of some behavior issues,” he said. “Anytime you separate siblings in the blink of an eye like that, it’s got to have some bad effect on them.”
The Coxes, who live in a $300,000-plus home in the Trails of Four Bridges subdivision, could not be reached for comment.
Warren County Juvenile Court Judge Joe Kirby said he has never heard of a situation such as this, but there are always two sides to every story.
“Sometimes you need to understand the whole situation. Every time I get a case there is always more to it…,” he said. “No matter what the circumstances are, there is always the other side of the story that just kind of turns things around.”
Gmoser said this case should not have an effect on the Safe Haven Act, which allows birth parents to give up their children — up to 30 days old — without criminal consequences, if they bring the baby to a medical worker at a hospital, fire department or to a peace officer.
The Coxes have a hearing in Butler County Juvenile Court on Nov. 27. No hearing has been set yet in the criminal case.
“The parents have sought to have their parental rights terminated,” Olivas said. “I’m not sure that terminating parental obligations and rights is the right thing to do here.”