PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – A Florida mother is facing a child neglect charge after she allowed her son to walk to a local park alone.
She says he is old enough but police disagreed.
“I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” said Nicole Gainey.
It all began last Saturday when Gainey gave her son, Dominic, permission to walk from their house to a local park.
“I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, I was letting him go play,” she said.
The park is a half mile from their home, which Gainey says is about a 10 to 15 minute walk.
Along the way, the 7-year-old was passing a public pool when someone asked him where his mother was.
“They asked me a couple questions and I got scared so I ran off to the park and then they called the cops,” said Dominic Guerrisi.
Dominic was playing when police pulled up to the park and asked where his mother lived.
Officers took him home and that’s when his mother was arrested and charged with child neglect.
“My own bondsman said, ‘My parents would have been in jail every day,” she said.
The officer wrote in the report that Dominic was unsupervised at the park and that “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.”
“He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles,” said Gainey.
Gainey says she believes Dominic is mature enough to go to the park alone during the day.
She says he always has a cell phone that she uses to check on him.
Gainey says she plans to fight the felony charge but says she won’t let Dominic go to the park alone.
The state attorney’s office says there is no law that says exactly how old a child has to be before they can go somewhere unsupervised.
Instead, it is done on a case-by-case basis.