Man charged with child endangerment after son skips church to play

After an 8-year-old boy skipped the weekly church bus to play in the streets near his home, police took his father into custody and charged the man with child endangerment.

Jeffrey Williamson, of Blanchester, Ohio, says that the charge--which cost him his job and could see him jailed for six months--was ridiculous.

"My kids run in the house in the living room here and tell me, 'Hey, Dad, the church van's here. We're leaving. We're going on to church,'" Williamson told WCPO. "I said, 'OK.'"

But his son, Justin Williamson, decided not to follow his siblings into the vehicle, sent by Woodville Baptist Church to pick up churchgoers each week. It left the child behind, who played in the streets near his home until entering a dollar store just blocks from his home. Someone called police, who took the child home and placed his father under arrest.

The officers claimed, according to reports, that the boy didn't know where he lived and was lost. Justin's father says that's nonsense: "I told the cop he goes out in the neighborhood and plays every day with all the other kids. There's a million kids around here that play. I know the parents. The parents know me."

Williamson plans to fight the charge, reports ABC WXYZ, and will appear in court July 15.

Notable Replies

  1. Why wasn't the father getting on the church bus? Sounds like someone's a dirty heathen who needs to be led to the power of Christ via prison.

  2. A child was permitted to play outdoors? Who was keeping the predators away?

  3. Ok, while I agree this is a ridiculous charge for the circumstances, it doesn't sound to me like the church part had any relevancy. He was charged with child-endangerment because his 8 year old son was unsupervised and the father had no idea where he was.

    The reason this is ridiculous is because my children walk to the end of the neighborhood to catch the bus to school. If they decided to "miss" the bus, I wouldn't know because an 8 year old should be able to walk a block and get on a bus without me holding a hand!

    For crying out loud, kids sneak away all the time! I once nearly gave my mother a heart attack in a Sears store because I hid in a clothing rack and she couldn't find me. That wasn't child endangerment ... that was a kid who needed his bottom smacked for not coming when mommy called!

  4. The greater misdeed here, if there is one at all (and to my mind there isn't), is that the father was sending kids off to a church in the first place. Is there a higher concentration of sexual predators in any profession outside of clergy?

    I started writing that with snark as my intent but before I finished the question it occurs to me it's not an unreasonable question and worth trying to find the numbers ...

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