BUT WHERE IS THE VIDEO?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 20, 2017) — On Thursday, a Los Angeles mother whose very young daughter was taken by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in March of last year and placed with her non-custodial father will face trial on a charge of “spousal abuse.”
The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. PDT at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Court Building located at 210 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
The charge arose as a result of an altercation which occurred on December 20, 2015 involving both parents. While the mother, to whom The Post & Email has referred as “Michelle Robinson” throughout its coverage of the case, reported the incident to the police and the father declined to file a report, in a bizarre twist of events, she is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Robinson has reported that she was the victim of domestic violence on the part of her child’s father, Eric Crutchfield, in both March 2015 and the December 20 incident. Following the March episode, Robinson turned Crutchfield out of her home, and there was no question as to the custody of their then-three-month-old daughter.
Robinson then filed for and was granted a restraining order against Crutchfield with full legal and physical custody of their daughter.
With December 20 being their daughter’s birthday, Robinson chose to allow Crutchfield to see his only child at his home under her supervision for a time. However, after Robinson arrived at the home, they entered into a violent argument, resulting in her sustaining a bite to her arm.
During the altercation, their child was reportedly strapped in her car seat, asleep.
Once extricating herself, Robinson drove to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to report the incident. However, a deputy informed Robinson that she was in the wrong jurisdiction and should report it to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) after first obtaining medical treatment.
Robinson proceeded to the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente and, following treatment, reported the incident to the LAPD, after which an investigation was opened by Detective Sean Horton. She has identified Horton as the individual who contacted DCFS claiming that her young daughter was at risk in her custody.
Although Crutchfield did not press charges against Robinson, Horton completed a criminal complaint on Crutchfield’s behalf which Robinson said Crutchfield signed “after the fact.” Robinson was then prosecuted by the Los Angeles district attorney, facing trial last July in what ended in a mistrial.
The hearing scheduled for Thursday came about as a result of last July’s mistrial.
Horton’s call to DCFS triggered an initial investigation which the agency closed in February 2016. However, after Horton claimed to DCFS to have seen a home video allegedly taken by an eyewitness from the altercation showing Robinson as the “aggressor,” DCFS contacted Robinson at work to request that she bring her daughter to their offices to relinquish custody.
During the spousal-abuse proceedings last July, Robinson said that Horton “perjured himself” when questioned about the video he alleged exists of the December 20, 2015 altercation.
The Post & Email has seen the transcript of Horton’s testimony, and Robinson has filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division of LAPD in regard to her allegations against Horton which remains unresolved.
At the time she turned over her daughter to DCFS, Robinson said she expected the detention to be brief at an area foster home. However, the child was placed with Crutchfield, who has a history of drug use and violations of Robinson’s restraining order, the most recent of which was reported just last week to the Inglewood Police Department.
Robinson’s attempts to regain custody of her daughter, who is now 2 1/2 years old, were unsuccessful after a contested hearing on April 25 granted final and full custody to Crutchfield. Because of difficulties finding a DCFS-approved monitor for the supervised-only visitation she was granted by the Edelman Children’s Court, Robinson has not seen her daughter since last October.
Robinson told The Post & Email that the proceedings are expected to last 4-5 days. Her defense is being handled by the Los Angeles County public defender’s office. “I had to ask during my appearance last week for the public defender (PD) to counter the Prosecution’s offer after I heard the judge say there was no counter by the Defense. My attorney said they would reject my request for dismissal, but I went for the ask and requested that she have my counter entered on to the record. The Judge noted my counter for the record; however, there was no comment or response from the prosecution,” Robinson told us on Monday.