405-778-4800
Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW
This Attorney is Lead Counsel Rated. Click here for more Information.

Tulsa Mother Arrested after Boyfriend Allegedly Abuses Child

28-Dec-2015

We have written before about Oklahoma's "failure to protect" laws, and how a person accused of enabling child abuse or neglect faces the same potential penalties as a person who physically abuses the child or who fails to provide adequate care for the child. In some cases, a woman who herself a victim of domestic violence receives the same--or even greater--penalties than the abuser who harms her and her child. Typically in Oklahoma, a person who leaves his or her child in the care of someone who abuses that child will face the more serious charge of permitting child abuse over the lesser charge of child endangerment.

Such is the case of a Tulsa mother who was arrested on a child neglect complaint after she left her child with her live-in boyfriend, only to find that the child had been severely beaten in her absence.

Reports say Heather Rachelle Terrell, 27, brought her 8-month-old son to the hospital early last week with a broken arm. When doctors examined the baby, they reportedly noticed additional bruising as well as a finger that was swollen and infected after having been broken two weeks earlier. 

Hospital staff told police that Terrell could not adequately explain her child's injuries, saying that her boyfriend told her that he had accidentally stepped on the baby's hand while playing with him. Terrell also reported that her boyfriend, identified as Dustin Ortega, 30, used drugs in the apartment with the child.

Terrell was arrested on a child neglect complaint for leaving her baby in the care of the man who allegedly had been abusing her child. When police approached the couple's apartment to speak with Ortega, he allegedly fled.

When a person knows or should reasonably know that the person with whom they leave a child is abusive or otherwise dangerous, he or she will likely face one of two felony charges: child endangerment or permitting child abuse.

The lesser charge, child endangerment, is defined as one of the following offenses:

  • knowingly permitting physical or sexual abuse of a child
  • knowingly permitting a child to be present where drugs are manufactured
  • knowingly permitting a child to be in the vehicle with an impaired driver, or with someone the person should have reasonably known was impaired
  • driving under the influence, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, and having a child or children in the vehicle

Child endangerment is a felony punishable by a maximum of 4 years in prison.

Although "permitting child abuse" is a definition of child endangerment, prosecutors typically file the more serious charge of enabling child abuse against a parent or other person responsible for the welfare of the child who leaves the child in the care of someone whom he or she should reasonably know is dangerous to the child. Enabling child abuse is a felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison. 



All News

More News

Teen Who Urged Boyfriend to Commit Suicide Convicted of Manslaughter
19-Jun-2017

In July 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III attempted to take his own..

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Warrantless Cell Phone Location Search Violates Fourth Amendment
12-Jun-2017

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that cou..

Man Sentenced to 4 Years in Stabbing Death of Roommate
09-Jun-2017

A 72-year-old man is ordered to spend four years in prison after s..

Trial Delayed for Second Brother in Broken Arrow Quintuple Murder
29-May-2017

Shortly before midnight on July 22, 2015, police in Broken Arrow r..

Criminal Appeals Court Upholds Death Sentence for Triple-Murderer
26-May-2017

For the second time, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has af..

Poorly written bill leaves lawsuit loophole; Governor signs anyway
22-May-2017

When drafting legislation, it is imperative that language is clear..

Not Guilty Verdict in Tulsa Police Shooting; Officer's Job Status under Evaluation
19-May-2017

After nine hours of deliberation, a jury returned a verdict o..

Man Exonerated in Rape Case Awarded Compensation
15-May-2017

An Oklahoma man who was exonerated of rape after spending 13 years..

Trial Begins in Tulsa Police Shooting Case
08-May-2017

Jury selection begins today in the manslaughter case of Tulsa poli..

Oklahoma Death Penalty Remains on Hiatus
05-May-2017

It has been almost exactly three years since the botched execution..

×