Ohio woman accused of abandoning son pleads guilty

LISA CORNWELL Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- A southwest Ohio woman accused with her husband of abandoning the adopted 9-year-old son they raised since infancy pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge and received a suspended jail sentence, a prosecutor said.

Lisa Cox and husband Cleveland Cox, of Butler County's Liberty Township, had been charged with nonsupport of dependents. The charge alleging that they recklessly abandoned or failed to provide adequate support for the boy could have resulted in sentences of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each of them.

The couple's attorney, Anthony VanNoy, did not immediately return calls to his office Monday.

Authorities say the couple left the boy with children services in October after saying he displayed aggressive behavior and earlier threatened the family with a knife.

Lisa Cox pleaded guilty Monday to the lesser charge of attempted nonsupport of dependents and received a suspended sentence of 90 days in jail, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.

Gmoser said the sentence was suspended conditioned upon her good behavior and continued cooperation with the county's children services toward reunification with the boy.

"I feel justice was served," Gmoser said in a telephone interview, adding that attention needed to be drawn to the issues in the case.

"There was no justification for abandonment, but there were mitigating circumstances with respect to the frustration that the family was having toward the issues they were facing on a daily basis," Gmoser said.

The charge against Cleveland Cox was dropped because jeopardizing the father's employment "would not have been in the best interest of justice or society," Gmoser said.

"This case was never intended to do more harm than good," he said.

The prosecutor said he hoped the case would stand as a message and a deterrent to those who seek to abandon their children through the courts and focus attention on some of the issues raised.