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Superior Court overturns babysitter’s conviction in child’s fall

Pittsburgh, PA

The Pennsylvania Superior Court said yesterday a babysitter shouldn’t have been convicted of child endangerment after a 3-year-old boy she who fell off a balcony voiding the criminal conviction and 3-year probation sentence imposed on then-18-year-old Raevin Hodges for the October 2016 incident in Pittsburgh.

Hodges simply wasn’t criminally negligent, even though she was focusing on her cell phone while the tot was playing on the balcony says Judge Deborah A. Kunselman.

The commonwealth said the incident occurred as Hodges was babysitting the boy in a second-floor apartment across from the Westinghouse School. When school let out, the toddler was watching the students and fell through a gap created by a missing rung in the balcony railing.

The boy was injured but survived. Allegheny County Judge Edward J. Borkowski convicted Hodges during a nonjury trial. Borkowski found Hodges “knowingly violated her duty” because she was “immersed in her cell phone” when she should have been ensuring the child was safe.

In disagreeing, Kunselman concluded Hodges did not knowingly endanger the child. Despite its defect, the balcony was not “so dilapidated or inherently dangerous that the risk of physical injury would be readily apparent,” she wrote. The Superior Court judge also wrote prosecutors failed in proving Hodges knew the boy could fit through the gap in the railing.

“Hodges did not divert her attention to her phone with the knowledge that in doing so the child’s well-being would be in jeopardy,” Kunzelman wrote. “At most, a terrible accident occurred rather than an intended crime.”

 

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