When emergency responders first showed up at Carmen Ann Smith-Portee’s house, responding to a call about a burned baby, she told them the 1-year-old had climbed into the tub by himself. Shortly after that, when deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff’s department arrived at the scene, Smith-Portee told them the same story – that she had run the baby his bath, and then left the room to get cleaning supplies and returned to find him screaming and burned in the water.
Under pressure from detectives, she changed her story.
However, after a time, Smith-Portee changed her story. She admitted that she had run the bath very hot and, because she was frustrated with the baby, had intentionally put him into water that she knew was too hot. According to paramedics on the scene, the baby’s burns were extensive, and included one of his arms, along with his back and forehead.
The baby was transported to St Joseph’s Mercy Oakland Hospital. But due to the extensive nature of his burns, was then transferred to the Detroit Children’s Hospital burn unit. He has since been reported as being in critical but stable condition, according to the Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the case.
The consequences for this young mom will be severe!
As you can imagine, CPS stepped in and took Smith-Portee’s other children and placed them with relatives until this situation can be resolved. However, given the charges against her (which are very serious) and the fact that she’s made a confession, it’s not likely that her children will be returned to her care any time soon.
The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has filed First Degree Child Abuse charges against her. Under Michigan law, First Degree Child Abuse carries the penalty of up to life in prison. Smith-Portee was arraigned at 50th District Court in Pontiac, where Judge Ronda Fowlkes Gross set her bond at $100,000. The bail was set high because Smith-Portee has outstanding warrants for traffic violations and third-degree retail fraud.
This is unfortunately, not an uncommon situation.
If you read the news, then you’ve probably seen countless stories similar to this one this year alone. Stories of young mothers who have little to no support system in place, and for whom the stress of caring for multiple young children without help is simply too overwhelming. Stressed and struggling, they sometimes give in to impulsive choices that can have lifelong consequences.
Time and again, research has shown that supportive communities, along with networks of people available to help when needed, can make all the difference in a potentially abusive situation. Parents with few resources, little to no help, and no reliable support system to lean on when things get rough, have higher instances of stress-motivated abuse. Sadly, these scenarios are entirely preventable.
Have you been accused of child abuse or neglect in Michigan?
Whatever the reason, whether it was a poor choice made in a moment of stress, or a complete misunderstanding about your parenting choices, we are here to help. The skilled CPS defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have decades of experience defending parents and caregivers in Michigan. Call 866 766 5345 to discuss your case with someone who can help. We are available 24/7.