Father’s arrest ignites debate over child abandonment

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Father's arrest ignites debate over child abandonment:

Two weeks ago, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram got into a rapidly escalating argument with his 11-year-old son in a McDonald’s.

The confrontation made for a poignant Aug. 15 column by Dave Lieber, who wrote about angrily jumping into his car after telling the boy to walk home, a distance of “a few blocks.” After cooling off, Lieber returned a short time later to find police officers interviewing his son.

Father and son apologized to each other and, after a stern lecture from a police officer, were allowed to drive home together.

Lieber’s confessional column about his “stupid and quite serious mistake” sparked a flurry of mostly supportive comments β€” many from parents who had done the same or were treated similarly by their own parents β€” on the newspaper’s Web site.

But the story wasn’t over. After additional investigation by detectives in suburban Watauga, Lieber was arrested Tuesday on charges of child abandonment and endangerment β€” reigniting a debate over proper parenting and the role of police in family matters.
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Lieber, 51, was charged with two felonies, child abandonment with intent to return and child abandonment/endangering a child, Detective Tiffany Ward said. Lieber turned himself in to the Tarrant County Jail and was released on $4,000 bail.

Police will refer the case to the Tarrant County district attorney, who will determine whether to pursue charges. State law defines abandonment as intentionally leaving a child younger than 15 “in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.”

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