Upon finding “inappropriate” text messages on his teen daughter’s cell phone, a Texas father did what any good parent would do — he took it away. However, soon after parenting his child, he was the one being led away in handcuffs.
After inspecting his15-year-old daughter’s cell phone, Ronald Jackson discovered inappropriate texting on her messenger app. Subsequently, he grounded the girl from using the device, confiscating her phone until he felt she was ready to be trusted with it again. Unfortunately, he had no idea that he’d be the one suffering the punishment.
For most parents, using a cell phone is a privilege that a child must earn through good behavior, responsibility, and maturity. Of course, privileges can be revoked at any time, especially when it comes to abusing the appropriate use of such items.
Jackson soon realized that he had stirred up the wrath of his scorned ex, who was determined to not only undermine his parenting but make him pay. According to First Coast News, Michelle Steppe called the Grand Prairie police on her former lover and the father of their child, reporting him for stealing her daughter’s phone.
Within hours, officers arrived at Jackson’s door and asked him to hand over the iPhone so that they could return it to Steppe, who planned on giving it back to the disobedient child. It was at this moment that the 36-year-old North Texas dad made the decision to stand up for what he felt was most important.
“At that point, I decided the police don’t interfere with my ability to parent my daughter,” Jackson said.
Jackson was then charged with theft of property of at least $50 but not more than $500, which is a Class B misdemeanor. However, the city wasn’t finished with him yet. Three months later, he received a citation in the mail stating that he had only been charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which was due to the fact that the city’s attorney had offered a plea deal to Jackson if he agreed to return the phone.
“As a mom, I’m upset because — number one — the property belongs to me,” she said. “You can’t take someone’s property, regardless if you’re a parent or not.”
When Jackson hired a lawyer and requested a jury trial to fight the charge, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office elevated the charge back up to the more stringent Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine. Unbelievably, a warrant was then issued and Jackson was arrested.
“It was the last thing as a mother I wanted my daughter to go through,” Steppe says. “I’m always here for my kids.”
After posting a cash bail of $1500, Jackson was ready to go to war in the courtroom. During his 2-day trial, his own daughter testified against him in the stand, still upset about her iPhone. Of course, Steppe hoped that the jury would side with her and offer up a guilty verdict, locking up Jackson for six months.
Incredibly, the jury sympathized with the dad, finding him not guilty of the misdemeanor. Additionally, Jackson was allowed to keep the coveted iPhone, which serves as a bittersweet reminder of his fight to parent the way he sees fit.
“Even if you purchase something with your own money and have a receipt, it’s not yours,” Steppe says. “Someone can take it from you.”
Sadly, Jackson believes that the ordeal was the final nail in the coffin for his relationship with his daughter. He lamented that he must “separate myself from them,” claiming that he “can’t ever have a relationship with them again.
The case shines a light on co-parenting between parents who aren’t in a relationship and just how devastating it can be for everyone involved, especially the children. The conflict serves as a reminder that, regardless of their relationship status, parents should always place the best interest of the child above all else and strive to work together in harmony.