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Published: Wednesday, 1/7/2004

Mother charged with child jeopardy


NORWALK - Lavanna Harmon, a local mother, is behind bars for allegedly giving her 14-year-old son too much alcohol New Years' Eve, Norwalk police said.

“Apparently she decided it was OK to allow her son to drink alcohol. Ohio law doesn't strictly prohibit it. What it does prohibit is child endangering by giving a child so much alcohol that it endangers his health,” Norwalk police Chief Kevin Cashen said.

Ms. Harmon, 37, is charged with child endangering, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, Chief Cashen said. She was arrested last Friday and is in the Huron County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing this Friday in Norwalk Municipal Court before Judge John S. Ridge.

A concerned relative called 911 about 1:30 a.m. New Year's Day stating the boy was aggressive and out of control, the chief said.

When officers arrived, the 14-year-old was being held to the floor by his mother. He was shouting and irrational, according to the police report. He began vomiting and was taken by ambulance to Fisher-Titus Medical Center.

Ms. Harmon told police she had given her son two mixed drinks and a beer about 8 p.m. New Year's Eve. After that, her son left the apartment to spend time with friends in another apartment in the same building. Ms. Harmon told police she thought “someone had given him a drink somewhere with something in it,” the report said. The boy told police he drank only at home and his mother had given him two kinds of whiskey, two mixed drinks, and a beer.

Chief Cashen cited federal privacy laws and said he could not give the boy's blood alcohol level at the time of the incident because it is in hospital records and not in police records. But “it was well over the legal limit for someone who would be driving impaired,” he said. The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers in Ohio is 0.08.

He believes that Ms. Harmon's son and 6-year-old daughter have been taken into state custody. Ms. Harmon is being represented by the Huron County public defender's office. Her attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ms. Harmon is being held in jail in lieu of $10,000 bond on the endangering charge but can't be bailed out because she also was sentenced Friday to 76 days in jail for a probation violation from a conviction for driving while under suspension. Court records show she violated probation by not submitting to a urine screening Dec. 23.

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