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Court clears Redmond dad in ‘fearless toddler’ escapes


The Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed the child-neglect conviction of a Redmond father who was asleep twice when his 3-year-old son escaped their home.

A three-judge panel found in a decision handed down Wednesday that Jorge Negrete’s conduct wasn’t model parenting, but it also wasn’t criminal.

Negrete had been convicted of second-degree child neglect in Deschutes County Circuit Court after the pair of June 2011 escapes from their home – twice in less than three weeks.

The judges who heard the appeal called the boy a “fearless toddler.” Neighbors found him unhurt, pushing his toy truck and accompanied by the family dog.

The court found that a reasonable juror could not find a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in Negrete’s conduct.

The court noted that after the first incident, Negrete “cooperated with DHS and worked on a child-safety plan. He installed chain locks on two of the three doors that could be used to leave the house. (His) failure to secure the garage door shows that his efforts were imperfect, but they were meaningful, even if they failed.”

The court said Negrete “had not disregarded DHS’s help and had acted to contain a fearless toddler.”

“The child’s parents did not believe that their son could open the motorized garage door,” the court said. “They also thought that opening the door leading from the house to the garage required more force than their son could exert.”

“To be sure, defendant’s unavailability and inattention to his three-year-old was not a model moment in care, and that lapse is relevant to the totality of the circumstances,” the court wrote. “Yet … failing to keep his child under his care was not a gross deviation from ‘a widely shared, reasonable societal norm.'”

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