Florida mom faces felony charge after 7-year-old son goes to nearby park alone

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A mom (Nicole Gainey) faces a charge of child neglect after she allowed her son to go to a local park alone. She says he's old enough but Port St. Lucie Police disagree. Now she's fighting back. Image courtesy WPTV via CNN.

By Elizabeth Harrington

Port St. Lucie, FL (WPTV) — A mom faces a charge of child neglect after she allowed her son to go to a local park alone. She says he’s old enough but Port St. Lucie Police disagree. Now she’s fighting back.

“I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” says Nicole Gainey.

It began last Saturday afternoon when Gainey gave her son Dominic permission to walk from their house to Sportsman’s Park .

“Honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” says Gainey, “I was letting him go play.

It’s a half mile from their Port St. Lucie home. Dominic says it only takes him about 10 to 15 minutes to get there. During the walk, the 7-year-old passed a public pool. Someone there asked him where his mom was.

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

Dominic was playing at the park when an officer pulled up.

“They said ‘where does your mom live,’ ” says Dominic.

Police took him home. That’s when his mom was arrested and charged with child neglect. Gainey says she was shocked.

“My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day,” says Gainey who paid nearly $4,000 to bond out.

The officer 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,” says Gainey.

She believes Dominic is mature enough to go to the park alone during the day. Gainey adds her son always has a cell phone which she calls to check on him.

“That I’m here and safe,” says Dominic.

Gainey plans to fight the felony charge. But after this she won’t let Dominic go to the park alone. She’s afraid she’ll be arrested again.

The St. Lucie County State’s Attorney’s office says there is no law that specifies how old a child has to be before he or she can go somewhere unsupervised. It’s done on a case-by-case basis.

Click here for updates on this story from WPTV.


  • anineOMous

    In the spring district, the children in elementary school have no choice but to walk home after school if they live within a mile of the school. The district cut back on cost of transportation. If the schools are doing this, then how is this women being charged?Personally I wouldn’t dare let my child walk alone at the age of 7 today’s day in age, back then it was different because the community did look out for one another but now it’s every man for themselves and a “no snitch” rule that the community follows. Things are certainly changing!!

  • JimB

    My grade school was over a mile from my house, and I walked it both ways everyday in all types of weather (hot-cold, snow, rain, sunny, etc.), as did nost kids of that era (1950s). Society is going berserk.

  • Josie

    I have a seven year old and I would never let him go anywhere by himself but everyone hes their own opinions if she felt that was best for her and her son so be it i don’t agree with it but still don’t see the need to get arrested for it i believe she needs to be talked to about all the creeps in this world and how will he protect himself just like when they were questioning him they scared him he ran to the park where he should of ran home people have to remember this world is like it was when we were growing up its a dog eat dog world now

  • 3rd AF Crew Chief

    This I crazy. The police could have questioned the boy escorted him home interviewed the Mom, but no they hand cuff her and arrest her. Take the donuts out of your mouths, and use your brains. Go search out some real criminals. Children have been abducted in broad daylight from their front lawn. Do not depend on the police to protect you…protect yourselves.

  • Emma Knight

    Port St Lucie has a 2500 ft residency restriction for registered citizens. A half a mile is 2640 ft. and the child lives approximately a half a mile from the park. By Florida logic his home is in a prime danger zone and going to the park was SAFER than staying at home!

  • Cooper

    In this day and age, it’s just not safe anymore to allow a child to be in a park without supervision. That’s the terrible reality of life now. That being said, to have arrested this mother is beyond understanding. Perhaps some prudent advice from the police officer about the potential dangers of allowing a young child to be in a park alone would have been appropriate. I grew up in the 50’s and early 60’s, and we never gave a thought to the dangers that abound now.It’s a sorry time we live in.

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