Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Case Law Developments: Criminal Child Abuse - Dangerous Parents

State v. Petithory, 2005 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 115 (August 26, 2005)

"Parents can commit a crime by exposing their children to danger--even if the parents themselves pose the danger. In this case, a baby girl lost her life because of her father's meth abuse; coming down from a high, he fell asleep while she sat in a running bathtub." Father argued that the criminal neglect statute, requiring proof that he “knowingly or recklessly exposes [the child] to a hazard or danger” could not extend to situations in which the danger is the parent himself.  The Iowa Supreme Court disagrees with plenty of citations to “common sense”, maxims of statutory construction, and excerpts from expert testimony about the effect of methamphetamine abuse on parenting.

Full opinion on the web at:


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