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Mom Who Abandoned Teen With Disability Won’t Face Charges

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An Illinois woman who abandoned her daughter with developmental disabilities at a Tennessee bar earlier this year will not face charges, officials say.

Eva Cameron’s 19-year-old daughter — who is said to have the intellectual abilities of a 3-year-old — was found alone at a bar in Caryville, Tenn. in June without any identification, more than 500 miles from her Algonquin, Ill. home.

While saying that Cameron’s conduct was unacceptable the district attorney general in Campbell County, Tenn. said this week that the woman will not be charged.

“There is no disagreement that the actions of the mother, Eva Cameron, in this case were inexcusable,” reads a release from Lori Phillips-Jones, the district attorney general. “However, Tennessee law has not anticipated such behavior and thus the Grand Jury was faced with conduct which was not necessarily indictable.”

Officials from Phillips-Jones’s office indicated that they will be working with state lawmakers to enact new legislation to address this type of situation in the future.

Cameron previously told the Chicago Tribune that she abandoned her daughter out of desperation after trying to find an appropriate living situation for the girl for over a decade without any luck.

The teen — whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy — was sent back to Illinois and is now being cared for by the state.

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Comments (16 Responses)

  1. Ryan Kempf says:

    that’s horrible if this mother gets away with this I would the person not pressing charges is only empowering her to do this again

  2. Barb says:

    What a terrible thing to do. I can’t image how frightened she must have been, being stranded with all those strangers. Also, in danger from being hurt or taken.

  3. robin says:

    This mom did what she did because no one would answer her cries for help. In order to get the appropriate assistance for her daughter, she had to stoop to this. It worked. Many parents have more than one child, the others need nurturing too.
    Switch places with this Mom for a year and you will be singing a different tune.

  4. Polly says:

    Goodness, how barbaric to even consider laying charges against the mother in the first place!

    Here’s a woman struggling to cope without adequate support for at least the last ten years, culminating in a desperate attempt to get someone to help her by caring for her severely disabled daughter! Clearly a criminal who should know better, let’s vilify and punish her even more.

    This woman’s behavior is not the problem. It’s an understandable human response of desperation to sustained intense pressure! Just as there is human variability in intellectual and adaptive functioning, so there is human variability in coping skills – so even if not everyone would have responded this way, given the circumstances I’d say a fair few people would have. The problem is a society that doesn’t value its citizens who are less able, and therefore doesn’t provide adequate support to them or to their carers/supporters so they can enjoy the same standard of living as all others. To criminalize the mother is vulgar and simplistic.

  5. Theresa Rhodus says:

    I disagree she had to do it. There are so many safer places to leave your child than a bar 500 miles from home. She sent her daughter in the bar to use the bathroom then took off. That is almost equivialant to taking your dog to the country and driving off. Only difference is the dog has survival skills. This young lady did not.

  6. Sad says:

    All she had to do was give the daughter to the father.

  7. Esther Ward says:

    It is the place which the mother chose to abandon her daughter that is inexcusable. She could have chosen a hospital or a police station; instead she chose a “BAR” which is an inappropriate place even for a “typical” 19 year old girl, placing her in great danger. Yes, mothers are stressed to the breaking point, but if this is what we parents display to our children, how can we demand that the larger society treat individuals with disabilities with acceptance and respect?

  8. Karnak says:

    The father had probably already shot through because he could not cope. It is too easy o be judgemental when you are not caring for a l;ow functioning mentally disabled person yourself. I think it does not reflect well on your country that they place parent/carer of such people in such a bad situtaion that they have to abandon their family member to get the help they need. However I have to admit my own ocuntyr can be a hopeless

  9. Carmel says:

    What are Tennessee and Illinois doing to improve the care of such people in group homes and opening more. Such government policy and legislation makes more sense than prosecuting a mother who had had enough

  10. Cari Watrous says:

    wow “such people” … as long as we can so easily put up barriers, creating us and them, it’s easy to find compassion for the mom and forget for a moment what it was like for a young woman, basically 3 years old, to be abandoned in an unfamiliar inappropriate place.

  11. KA101 says:

    As before, I’m more inclined to sympathize with the teenager abandoned in a bar, far far away from home, than I am to sympathize with the mother who left her there believing that it was a restaurant. If for whatever reason one must abandon one’s ward, the place to do so is at an emergency service provider such as a fire station or hospital. Police stations should work too but the abandoner understandably might not want to be near the cops when abandoning.

    [Yes, there are bad emergency-responders out there. That said, their stations are generally safer than bars, and responders are trained to take people into custody. Bartenders & bar patrons, not necessarily.]

    From a quick look at the TN criminal statutes, it appears that she slips through the crack between Flagrant Nonsupport (39-15-101) and Child Neglect (39-15-401) because she (apparently) could not afford to provide support, the child was over 18 years old, and–fortunately–nobody at the bar actually harmed her.

    Bottom line: this parent put her child in danger without an appreciable assessment of that danger, because she wanted to be rid of the teenager. IMO that should be a criminal offense.

  12. robin says:

    The so-called child is not a child anymore. The obligation to be a parent is over unless the child is conserved.
    There was a law allowing a parent to drop off their unwanted child(ren) in hospitals but the state put an age limit on that after some father dropped off his 5 kids at an ER saying he could not take care of them.

  13. Lisa says:

    We all have our struggles but I can’t bare the thought of not taking care of my daughter. I pray that her daughter is taken care of appropriately. Sometimes we don’t know where to turn but you have to pray for God to give you the strength for you and your children.

  14. AL Masters says:

    Tennessee certainly has child endangerment laws, so why not charge her with something on the line of child endangerment? This story has gaps and the DA needs to be severely questioned as to why charges can’t be filed. I suspect this is simply the state does not want to get involved. Shame on this DA and the state of Tennessee.
    AL Masters

  15. robin says:

    >so why not charge her with something on the line of child endangerment?<
    Hello!?..The daughter is NOT a child.

  16. Becky Carr says:

    If the daughter has the intellectual ability of a 3-year old, then she is a child for all practical purposes as far as I am concerned and I cannot imagine doing this to a 3-year old or anyone.

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