HARRISBURG, Pa. – Child-welfare authorities seized a newborn from a hospital Friday and placed the baby in a foster home because his father is a convicted sex offender.
A judge granted the mother supervised visitation rights but prohibited visits from the father.
"There's no happy ending in these things. It's what we think is the best interest of the children," Gerard Campbell, executive director of Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services, which took custody of the baby over the mother's objections.
The baby was born Tuesday and the agency obtained an emergency court order Wednesday authorizing it to take the infant after arguing that his safety is in jeopardy because the father pleaded guilty to rape and sodomy two decades ago in New York (search). The agency also cited the mother's alleged history of drug abuse.
Another hearing is set for Oct. 31.
"I think they're sending the message that if you or any member of your family screws up, you can kiss your parental rights goodbye," said American Civil Liberties Union (search) lawyer Mary Catherine Roper, who represents the mother, Melissa WolfHawk.
WolfHawk, 31, declined to talk with reporters after a hearing before Common Pleas Judge Charles Miller.
The 53-year-old father, DaiShin WolfHawk, did not attend the hearing but said he was "just shocked" by the judge's decision.
"I thought I was living in America," he said.