Two Sides to the Story

November 8, 2014

A woman who left her young children in a sweltering car while she went on a job interview attracted sympathy from around the country with a tear-stained mug shot after being arrested on felony child-abuse charges.

People responded to her plight to the tune of $114,000 in donations based on the fact that she was trying to get a job and was heartbroken when she realized she had endangered her children.

Prosecutors gave her a second chance by allowing her to keep her children and not face charges as long as she sets up a $60,000 trust fund for her children’s education. She breached the deal by missing a Thursday deadline for putting money in the trusts, even after the amount of her payments was lowered to $40,000.

Now, she is being accused of spending most of the donated money. Prosecutors say that she has spent about $4,100 a month, including more than $1,000 in non-essentials such as cable TV, clothing and dining.

Of course, we’re only getting one side of the story. She has small children. What if the clothing she bought was to replace clothing that her children had outgrown? She said that she didn’t set up the education fund because she’s concerned that her children won’t have access to the money if they decide not to go to college.

For all we know, this woman may have heard stories about the huge administrative costs and legal fees that come out of trust funds and she may have felt that all the money would be eaten up by those expenses. The media didn’t say whether she had access to a good accountant, financial planner, or attorney who was knowledgeable about those matters.

As for taking her children out for dinner, she says she isn’t living an extravagant lifestyle by taking them to McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese, and she is still looking for work on a regular basis.

Perhaps her thinking skills aren’t up to snuff, but that doesn’t mean that she’s stealing the donated money to fund a lavish lifestyle. It could be a case of not having enough information to make informed decisions about her spending.

When you’re out of work and you have small children to feed and house, the world can be very frightening. So, maybe she didn’t think too clearly that every dime she spends on restaurants and cable TV puts her one step closer to homelessness. Maybe she just needs someone to help her plan for their future.

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