Ohio parents get prison in cancer death of son

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 16, 2012 6:13 PM
Ohio parents get prison in cancer death of son

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A Cleveland judge sentenced two parents Thursday to eight years in prison after they pleaded guilty to failing to get medical help for their eight-year-old boy before he died from a treatable form of cancer.

Judge Michael Astrab admonished Monica Hussing, 37, and William T. Robinson, Sr., 40, parents of William Robinson, Jr., for not taking personal responsibility for their son's March 2008 death and for hiding him away instead of seeking help for his illness. They received the maximum sentence.

The couple pleaded guilty in January to one count each of involuntary manslaughter. Hussing and Robinson were under investigation since 2005 by the Department of Family and Children Services in Trumbull County for keeping some of their six children out of school and failing to get medical attention for William.

The judge accused the parents of moving to Cleveland, two months before William died, in order to elude DFCS social workers. Hussing appeared without emotion as the judge scolded her for never enrolling her son in school.

Hussing testified Thursday that her son had died in her arms after exhibiting "flu-like symptoms" and that she tried to give him CPR before emergency workers arrived. The Cuyahoga County coroner ruled the boy's death from Hodgkins lymphoma and pneumonia a homicide.

A 2009 American Cancer Society report found that 96 percent of children diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease will survive five or more years. But some 85 percent of the cells in William's lungs had been replaced by abnormal cells, according to a victim impact statement.

Robinson was also charged early this week with 16 counts including the rape and kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl in 2009. His arraignment is schedule for February 27.

Three of the family's other children are living with a maternal aunt. Another is in a juvenile facility for behavioral problems.

Monica Hussing's oldest child, Lillian Hussing, who is William Robinson Sr.'s stepchild, gave a statement in court on her mother's behalf. She said her brother was a normal, happy eight-year-old up until three days before he died.

"Sometimes he was lazy and would lie on his bed and play video games," Hussing said.

(Reporting By Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski)