GH woman gets probation in child's bathtub drowning

Becky Vargo • Jun 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

A moment of distraction led to a tragic result when 20-month-old Lily Mohney drowned in a bathtub late last year.

That distraction led Ottawa County prosecutors to charge the child’s mother, Felicia Ann Mohney of Grand Haven, with third-degree child abuse following the Dec. 12 incident.

A police report prepared by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office noted that Lily and her 3-year-old brother were being given a bath when their dog started barking. Felicia went outside to get the dog and was gone for perhaps 2-3 minutes before finding her daughter facedown in the bathtub, the report said.

The mother gave the girl CPR until emergency responders arrived that evening, but Lily died about an hour later at North Ottawa Community Hospital, police said.

Felicia Mohney, 35, faced up to two years in prison after pleading to the charge May 29. However, Ottawa County Circuit Judge Karen Miedema said that Mohney has punished herself enough for the death of her young child. 

On Monday, Miedema sentenced Mohney to one year of probation and two days already served in jail.

A person is guilty of child abuse in the third degree, according to the Michigan Penal Code, if any of the following apply: (a) the person knowingly or intentionally causes physical harm to a child; (b) the person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that under the circumstances poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child, and the act results in physical harm to a child.

Mohney’s husband, Lee, encircled his crying wife in his arms as they left the courtroom after Monday’s sentencing. Prior to the sentencing, he asked for mercy for his wife.

“She’s a loving mother,” Lee Mohney said. “I don’t think there’s any more punishment that will be worse than what she’s already been through.”

Attorney Jeffery West said that his client always gave the children their baths together.

“There was no plan or intent for something bad to happen,” he said.

Felicia Mohney broke down into tears when she apologized for what happened that night.

“I loved my daughter,” she sobbed.

Miedema said that there was no doubt that Mohney loved her daughter, noting the numerous letters she had received in Mohney’s support.

“But life is fragile,” the judge said. “One decision can be life changing.”

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