Dad gets 2nd chance: felony charges dropped, 18 months probation for taping girl, posting photo
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporteremail@example.com January 4, 2013 10:32AM
Andre Curry was convicted Thursday of domestic battery for putting painter's tape on his daughter. This photo was posted on Facebook, leading to charges. | The Sun-Times has obscured her face to protect her privacy.
Updated: February 6, 2013 6:08AM
After losing his job, being separated from his daughter, enduring worldwide ridicule and almost losing his freedom Friday, Andre Curry says he’s learned an important lesson: “Think before you do.”
The man who bound his toddler’s wrists and covered her mouth with blue painter’s tape as a joke, and then posted an image of his handiwork online, got a big break Friday, when a Cook County judge opted for probation and parenting classes instead of jail time.
“This was not funny, and I want you to understand the gravity of your lack of judgement in this case,” Cook County Associate Judge Lawrence Flood told Curry.
The message appeared to sink in.
Curry mumbled an apology to Flood, and afterwards told reporters in the 26th and California courthouse lobby that he blames no one but himself for the fallout from his online prank.
“For my actions, I deserved to be put through this, and it was actually a life-learning experience for myself,” said a clean-cut Curry, wearing a cream v-neck sweater and a gray tie.
Curry almost learned a harder life lesson. He faced as much as seven years in prison, after Flood convicted Curry of aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery, both felonies, back in November. But on Friday, Flood did something very rare in criminal court — he changed his mind, and instead convicted Curry of only misdemeanor domestic battery.
Flood said prosecutors had failed to prove that, in taping his toddler’s mouth, Curry intentionally tried to strangle the girl. Flood also said Curry’s lack of criminal history meant he didn’t deserve to be locked up.
That didn’t stop Flood from repeatedly scolding Curry in court.
“In your rush to show everyone how funny you were, you used a helpless 22-month-old child as a prop,” Flood said.
Curry originally posted the image of his daughter in late 2011. The image, which went viral, included this caption: “This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back.” Curry was later arrested and charged. He spent 39 days in jail, and has only been allowed supervised visits with his daughter — Curry said Friday.
But Curry’s attorney, Sam Adam Jr., argued at trial — and again last week, when he asked Flood to reconsider the verdicts — that prosecutors overcharged the case, noting that his client’s actions were stupid, but did not rise to the level of felonies. Adam took a risk last week arguing before the sentencing that Flood had made a mistake in his reasoning — something Adam acknowledged Friday.
“You’ve got to be very careful about when you say, ‘I think you’re wrong here,’” Adam said. “But I’ve known Judge Flood a long time, and he knew I was not attacking him personally.”
As he prepared to leave the courthouse Friday — surrounded by supporters, including his mother and pastor — Curry said he’s looking forward to a fresh start.
“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what you’re going through,” he said.