Woman sentenced to jail for striking autistic son

Becky Vargo • Sep 13, 2018 at 1:00 PM

A Holland woman was ordered this week to spend 90 days in jail after she admitted losing control and striking her 9-year-old autistic son multiple times.

Megan Marie Ipema, 30, will also be on probation for 18 months once she is released from jail.

She was sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

Judge Karen Miedema allowed Ipema to make work arrangements prior to reporting for jail Friday evening. Work release will be allowed.

A jury earlier this summer found Ipema guilty of third-degree child abuse.

“The defendant was out of control,” the prosecuting attorney said prior to Monday’s sentencing. He noted that Ipema struck her child 14-16 times Feb. 12, and had to be stopped by another adult.

“Brutally striking an autistic child in this way is not acceptable,” the prosecutor said.

Both of the child’s paternal grandparents made statements at Monday’s hearing. The child not only had to deal with injuries, but also with changes of adult figures in his life, change of home, change of school and loss of friends, his grandmother said.

“Our life has been turned upside down, but his life has been turned inside out,” the grandfather said.

The grandfather noted that the child has frequent behavioral issues and deals with anger, fear, worry, anxiety and mistrust.

He then asked Judge Miedema to sentence Ipema to jail so she has time to reflect on her actions “so that this never happens again.”

Ipema’s attorney, Abraham Gonzalez, said many of those issues are the same as what the child has been dealing with most of his life.

“Megan realizes she went too far,” Gonzalez said.

The attorney noted that his client called Child Protective Services herself and is attending parenting classes.

“She is doing everything she can to address that mistake,” Gonzalez said. “Any type of jail term would be a serious detriment.”

Ipema apologized for her actions and said she was doing everything she could to help her son — but, at the same time, she needed help.

“I wish I could take it back,” she said. 

Miedema replied: “The court does believe that you are sorry. You said during the trial that (the child) was the issue.” 

But the judge noted that Ipema was the issue and had to be responsible for herself.

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