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Judge's Gavel - Legal

A Delaware, Ohio woman dropped her two-year old son into a cheetah exhibit at Cleveland’s zoo. Let that sink in for a moment.

When you take your children to the zoo, are you not extra-cautious at every turn to ensure the safety of everyone in your party? You can just hear parents warning, “Don’t get too close to that cage!

38-year old Michelle Schwab and her husband took their toddler to see the animals. For reasons inexplicable, Michelle held up the two-year old, dangling him over the fence of the cheetah enclosure.

The child lunged forward and fell from her arms, falling about 10 feet and landing inside the exhibit. Schwab and her husband jumped into the enclosure to get their child who broke his leg in the fall. Zoo officials say, amazingly, the cheetahs did not approach the family.

Michelle Schwab was originally charged with child endangerment after witnesses reported that they saw her dangling the toddler over the fence housing the dangerous wild cats. She and her attorneys say the incident was an accident.

Later, the charge was reduced to aggravated trespassing, to which Schwab pleaded no contest.
Schwab says, “It was the worst day of my life, it all happened so fast.”
A Cleveland municipal court judge sentenced Schwab to a 180-day suspended jail sentence. She is also on one year probation and ordered to take parenting classes and is to receive counselling.

In issuing his order, Judge Ronald Adrine said, “I have a lot of concerns that this event took place, to put a child on top of an enclosure. It’s a scary proposition, and it’s unconscionable.”
At the time of the incident, Michelle Schwab was an assistant director at a Columbus-area daycare facility. It is not known whether she lost her job, or has been placed on leave pending completing counselling and parenting classes.

Is the sentence too light for someone who knowingly endangered the life of her two-year old? What do you think? Should the child be removed from her care? Should she be in jail?

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