- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Florida mother was arrested and charged with child neglect after she allowed her 7-year-old son to walk a half-mile to the local park alone.

“I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” Nicole Gainey, of Port St. Lucie, told a local NBC affiliate.

Sportsman Park is reportedly one-half mile, or about 10 to 15 minutes, from Miss Gainey’s home. She said she didn’t think much of it when she allowed her son Dominic to take the trip alone on Sunday.

“I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I was letting him go play,” she told the station.

As Dominic was passing by a public pool, lifeguards asked him where his mother was.

“They asked me a couple questions, and I got scared so I ran off to the park and then they called the cops,” Dominic said.

Police found the boy in the park playground playing with other children. He had a cellphone around his neck that was given to him by his mother, a police affidavit said.

Police took the boy home and the mother was arrested and charged with child neglect.

“My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day,” she said.

Police wrote in the report that Dominic was unsupervised at the park and that “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.”

“He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles, and this and that, and basically the park wasn’t safe, and he shouldn’t be there alone,” Miss Gainey told the station.

She said she plans to fight the felony charge, but won’t let Dominic go to the park alone anymore.

The St. Lucie County State’s Attorney’s office told the NBC affiliate that there is no law specifying how old a child has to be before being left alone. It’s reportedly done on a case-by-case basis.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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