Mitchell: Curry should not have received a felony conviction for bonding his daughter’s hands and feet with tape
Most people would agree Andre Curry, 22, should suffer some consequences for binding his toddler daughter’s hands and feet with blue painter’s tape and posting the photograph on Facebook.
It was an ignorant stunt.
Thankfully, the toddler was unharmed and some good did come from the uproar. Curry’s arrest raised awareness about the dangers of trying to become an Internet sensation.
Curry was accused of abusing his daughter and spent weeks in jail before he could make bail. After a bench trial last week, Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood convicted Curry of aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery.
To put Curry’s conviction in perspective, consider the charges against Hugo Dominguez, 38, of Glenwood.
Last February, Dominguez was charged with one count of aggravated domestic battery, and his girlfriend, Mary Ramirez, 38, was charged with one count of unlawful restraint for injuries inflicted on Dominguez’s 13-year-old son.
The teen alleged that his father hit him with a yardstick and ax handle and stabbed him with a knife. Ramirez was accused of hitting the teen with belts, a bamboo scratcher and rulers taped together. The teen also accused the pair of chaining him to a dryer in the laundry room at night.
Last week, Dominquez pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and was sentenced to probation.
While Curry could be given probation, he faces up to three to seven years in prison for putting painter’s tape on his daughter.
Jail time is only part of the punishment Curry faces. He is now a felon. In fact, a couple of days after his conviction, Curry was let go by his two employers.
“It was a total surprise, not just to me and Andre but even to the attorney,” noted the Rev. Torrey L. Barrett, executive director of the KLEO Community Life Center on the South Side.
Barrett started the Andre Curry Legal Defense Fund to raise Curry’s bail money and stood by him during the trial.
“We all thought there was no way the judge would find him guilty, because there was no intent,” Barrett said.
“Obviously, we all know it was a dumb thing to do, but now he is a product of the court system, and this was a young man who didn’t have a criminal history.”
Curry’s life was turned upside down.
“Individuals around his house busted out his car windows and repeatedly made threats against him. In order to stay safe, he had to move to Minnesota. He was working two jobs and sending money back home to his daughter to try to provide,” Barrett said.
Sam Adam Jr., who defended Curry, said he is preparing to file a motion to reconsider the verdict.
“Despite the judgment, the only evidence presented was he was playing with his child. The state’s witnesses all said they were playing. And that is not the purpose of the statute,” Adam said.
Although he understands Curry had to be punished, Adam said he believes the aggravated domestic battery and battery charges overreached.
“You could teach this kid a lesson but I think you could do the same thing with a misdemeanor,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be another African-American man with a record. When the child finds out what happened, she is going to blame herself. That is not what we need.”
Meanwhile, Curry is “devastated,” Barrett told me.
“I’ve spoken with people who think he got what he deserved. But as a pastor and as an individual who counsels with youth all the time, you have to understand their thought patterns. While he used poor judgment, he didn’t have criminal intent.”
Curry, who doesn’t want to comment, has been run out of his neighborhood. He is estranged from his daughter. He has lost his jobs and his ability to provide for his family. Worse yet, he will have to live with the reality that a moment of foolishness will shape his future for years to come.
But there is a huge difference between Curry and Dominiquez. Dominiquez is a bona fide child abuser. Curry is a young man who made a stupid mistake.
Yet the law is coming down on Curry like a ton of bricks, while Dominiquez is getting a break. That’s not justice. That’s contempt.