Neglect charges that started children's standoff dropped

Sunday, September 30, 2001

SANDPOINT, Idaho -- A judge dismissed a misdemeanor child neglect charge against JoAnn McGuckin, the mother of six children who held police at bay in a five-day standoff earlier this year.

"When all the circumstances came together, at least in my mind, it became readily apparent JoAnn is not a criminal," Bryce Powell, McGuckin's court-appointed legal counsel, said after the ruling Friday.

Powell said the facts in the child-neglect case spoke for themselves.

The family had been struggling with financial hardships and the death three weeks before the standoff of McGuckin's husband, Michael, who had multiple sclerosis.

When McGuckin was arrested May 29 on accusations of child endangerment made by an older daughter who had left home, the other children -- ages 6 to 13 -- barred themselves inside the rural house with a pack of semi-wild dogs. Police who had come to take them into protective custody waited outside until the children emerged on their own five days later.

The three boys and three girls have been in foster care, and authorities are working to return them to their mother.

McGuckin, 46, admits she isn't cooperating. She said she visited with her children on her birthday earlier this month, and she lamented the state's involvement in the family's affairs.

"We all cried. We just kept wondering why we couldn't pick up and go home," the Press quoted her as saying after the hearing. "It's bewildering to all of us what has happened."

In the motion to dismiss the child endangerment charge, Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson said it was based on the "observed and evident medical, emotional and personality deficits evidenced by the defendant."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: