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A 15-month old little girl was travelling with her mother and other family members on a flight from Alaska to Hawaii. According to other passengers on the plane, the mother of the little girl, Samantha Watanabe, hit the baby in the head, smacked her in the face with a doll and pulled out tufts of her hair.

That sounds like the very definition of child abuse, and passengers testified as such during a trial. A jury, last May convicted Watanabe finding her guilty of child assault.  Defense attorneys argued that the allegations were fabricated because other passengers didn’t like the way Watanabe was dressed nor how she dressed little Clementine.

Clementine was wearing a Playboy Bunny necklace, for starters.

Watanabe was sentenced to 30 days in a detention center for what was described as “reflection” as punishment for abusing her baby girl.  Defense attorneys argued that the judge allowed the prosecution to present lay witnesses as testimony to the alleged abuse of which she was found guilty.

Who else was going to be able to testify to what happened on that plane? Of course other passengers were called to testify as they were the ones who witnessed the abuse. Passengers and flight attendants testified that Watanabe was unnecessarily rough with a generally well-behaved 15-month old baby.

Aside from pulling her hair and hitting her, witnesses testified that the mother also pushed the baby’s face with an open hand until her head was as far back as it would go. This motion jerked the child’s head much like what happens with whiplash.

Here is the kicker and what will really make you mad: a Federal judge this week overturned Watanabe’s conviction. However, a new trial has been ordered for Samantha Watanabe. Hopefully, this time, little Clementine will get justice and receive some protection from our justice system.

If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory for an attorney in your area.

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