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Muskegon woman jailed for slapping 5-month-old child

Becky Vargo • Aug 14, 2018 at 7:00 AM

A 30-year-old Muskegon woman expressed remorse for her actions prior to being sent to jail for abusing her 5-month-old child in Ottawa County. 

Jennifer Marie-Naomi Slack was sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court to 180 days in jail, followed by three years probation, for a Dec. 29, 2017, incident in Crockery Township. She is also not allowed to have contact with her children unless permitted by the Ottawa County Family Court.

Judge Karen Miedema said the child’s injuries were severe enough to warrant the jail time, but the sentence was significantly below what the guidelines called for because there were no plans to terminate the parental rights.

Defense attorney Christi Burda argued that although the incident may have been a reckless act, there was no information that Slack was manipulating the child.

Miedema said a stronger sentence was allowed because of the child’s age and because the defendant’s actions with the child were “nothing other than selfish because of her own frustrations.”

“As a parent, you need to remain calm,” Miedema said, cautioning the woman to walk away — as long as the children were safe — rather than taking her frustrations out on them.

Miedema said the severity of the sentence was because of the number of times Slack hit her child in the face.

“I didn’t see the picture, but it was described as a very definite handprint on the face,” the judge said.

Miedema noted that the child had significant injuries, including retinol hemorrhages and a subdural hematoma. Months later, there was continued swelling with the need for surgery to reduce the swelling, the judge noted. The child had follow-up care for months. 

Slack said no apology could ever be enough for what she did to her child.

“Everything I love became everything I lost,” she said.

Slack said her actions have since been diagnosed as being due to depression and generalized anxiety.

“Dec. 29 will be a wrong I can never forget,” she said. “But it will be one I will continue to learn from.”

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