Mom Arrested for Neglect After Letting Son Walk to Park

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL -- A Florida mom is facing a child neglect charge after she allowed her son to walk to a nearby park alone. She said he's old enough. Police disagreed. Now, she's facing serious charges.

Nicole Gainey says she's dumbfounded by the situation. It all started last weekend when she gave her son, Dominic, permission to walk to a park near their home.

"I honestly didn't think I was doing anything wrong, I was letting him go play," Gainey said.

She said it's a half a mile from their Port St. Lucie home and is about a 10 or 15 minute walk. As he walked, the 7-year-old passed a public pool. That's where someone asked him where his mom was.

"They asked me a couple questions and I got scared so I ran off to the park and then they called the cops," Dominic said. By the time police pulled up, Dominic was playing happily and they asked where his mom lived. Police took him home and that's when Gainey was arrested. Now, she's charged with child neglect.

"My own bondsman said 'my parents would have been in jail every day,'" Gainey said.

In the officer's report, he wrote that Dominic was unsupervised at the park and "numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity."

"He just basically kept going over that there's pedophiles," Gainey recalls. But she believes Dominic is mature enough to go to the park alone during the day and he always has a cell phone which she calls to check on him. Gainey plans to fight the felony charge but no says she won't let Dominic go to the park alone because she's afraid she'll be arrested again.

The state's attorney's office says there is not a law the says exactly how old a child has to be before they can go somewhere unsupervised.

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