Houston child abandonment case sparks parenting debate


by Gabe Gutierrez / KHOU 11 News


Posted on August 23, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 23 at 12:20 AM

HOUSTON – A Houston mother who’s accused of abandoning her son near a busy street was simply trying to teach him a lesson, her lawyers said Monday.

HPD investigators said the mother, Cicely Denise Petty, 37, was upset because her son got into trouble at school on April 27.

According to court documents, she told the 10-year-old she was "done with him," and forced him out of the car. He ended up in the 11000 block of Hillcroft Avenue, where another woman spotted the child walking alone and became concerned because of the heavy traffic in the area.

Petty, who works as a teacher, is charged with felony child abandonment. Court documents show prosecutors believe the child was in "unreasonable risk of harm."

Her attorneys are questioning why prosecutors are pursuing the case four months later. They say an investigation by Child Protective Services has cleared their client.

KHOU 11 News’ calls to CPS Monday were not immediately returned.

Attorney Julie Ketterman, who defended Petty in the CPS case, said her client didn’t drop off her son in a busy street. Instead, she said, Petty dropped her son off at a stop sign in their subdivision after he began “mouthing off.”

"What she tells him is: ‘I want you to get out of the car, and I want you to stand here and I want you to think about is, if I, as your mother, were to shun my responsibilities to you and the family, where would that leave you?’" Ketterman said.

She said Petty then drove off and dropped off her two other children at home. When Petty returned minutes later, her lawyer said, her 10-year-old was gone.

Petty then panicked, Ketterman said, and quickly called 911.

"She was taking that opportunity to try to teach her son a lesson in responsibility,” Ketterman said. “She was trying to get him to think.”

Petty is out on $2,000 bond.

"My mom kicked me out of the car for being a brat when I was 8 once, so I walked two full miles home and found Jesus on the way back," said Colin Amann, who is defending Petty in her criminal case. "The government has no business teaching parents how to parent."