A quick run into the store, a child left in a car, and even parents forgetting their child in the car…these are all incidents that have played out in Guam’s hot island heat. And while some go unnoticed, others have garnered the attention of the public.
Intentional or not it happens more often than publicized. Raising the question how has the government responded to incidents of children left in cars alone?
The most recent case involves a 6-month-old baby left in a car in the parking lot of University of Guam last Friday by her mother, Elizabeth Liendhart Taisacan, which she said was unintentional. She spent two days in detention before she was released and has yet to be charged. The government, however, has stated that the case is still active.
In 2017, a South Korean couple, one a lawyer and the other a judge, deliberately left their 6-year-old in a car at the Kmart parking lot while they went shopping, telling police that they were only gone for three minutes. However, court documents state that 45 minutes had passed after the children were found before the couple emerged from the store. The parents pleaded guilty and were let off the hook with paying a fine of $500 each in addition to court fees, closing the case.
While the children in both these case were unharmed, there have been other cases where tragedy befell the child.
In August 2014, 3- month-old Tyler Cruz died after he was forgotten in the family car for two hours. He had suffered burns from the scorching heat and his cause of death was asphyxiation. His parents, Victoria Siatong and Shawn Cruz, took plea deals for child abuse, and completed conditions of a deferred plea for negligent homicide and leaving a child unattended in a mother vehicle. Both did not serve any jail time.
In April 2013, Senior Probation Officer Anthony Morcilla forgot his 2-year-old daughter for seven hours in a hot truck parked at the Judiciary of Guam before he remembered she was there. The child died as a result. A jury of 12 found him not guilty of negligent homicide, leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle and child abuse.
In response to this incident, the Office of the Attorney General responded that “justice did not fall on deaf ears.” Former AG Lenny Rapadas continued on to say, “the law applies to good people as well as the bad. Justice sometimes means doing what is right and not what is popular.”
While each case resulted in no jail time, judgment comes in different forms. This raises the question is it possible to forget your child?