Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Throwing your dad away over an iPhone...

Fair warning... this post has more profanity in it than usual.  

If you've been following the news lately, you may have read or heard the story of Ronald Jackson, a Dallas, Texas dad who spent a night in jail because he supposedly "stole" his daughter's cell phone.  I first heard about this case last week, when a judge ordered a jury to find Jackson not guilty, since there wasn't enough evidence to try the case.

Naturally, when I read the facts about the case, I immediately thought it was bullshit that it was ever presented to a judge and jury.  Last night, I got into an online argument with a guy who vehemently disagreed with me.  As we debated, I could feel my blood pressure rise and my head start to pound.  Old memories and feelings began to flood my head as I remembered what Bill and I went through with his ex kids before they disowned him.  Sadly, Mr. Jackson was also disowned by his now 15 year old daughter.

Before I pontificate about the horrors of being disowned, let's rewind the tape.  In late September 2013, Ronald Jackson, now 36 years old, had his then 12 year old daughter at his house for a visitation.  The twelve year old had a cell phone.  She texted to a friend "I don't like his ratchet girlfriend or her kids."  She was referring to Jackson's girlfriend.   The friend who was arguing with me thought the kid meant "wretched".  No...  she was using a disrespectful term for a woman one can find listed in Urban Dictionary.   "Ratchet", for those who don't know, roughly means low class and clueless diva.

Mr. Jackson decided to confiscate his daughter's phone.  The phone was purchased by the girl's mother, Michelle Steppe, but the service plan was paid for by Jackson.  For some reason, Jackson did not return the phone and, in fact, still has it.  After Jackson took the phone, his daughter went to a friend's house and called her mom, who promptly sent police over to demand that he return it.  Jackson refused.  He said he didn't think the police should be interfering with the way he disciplines his daughter.

Steppe, who never married Jackson, is now married to a police officer.  My guess is that it was partly his idea to escalate this ridiculous spectacle.  For some reason, Jackson was not involved in his daughter's life for the first years.  I don't know why he wasn't involved, although I do think that if he had her over for visitation and shared custody of her, it's unlikely that he was a deadbeat dad.  If he didn't care about the girl, why would he share custody of her?  At some point, he had to have gone to court to get visitation rights.  Based on the mother's extreme actions over a stupid cell phone, I doubt she willingly granted him access to his kid.

Fast forward to 2015.  Jackson had steadfastly refused to return the phone, so in the wee hours of a morning in April, police showed up at Jackson's home to arrest him.  He was charged with theft of property of at least $50 but less than $500, a class B misdemeanor.  He spent a night in jail over this stupid bullshit.  He paid $1500 to bail out of jail, along with whatever it cost to hire an attorney.  It's pretty clear to me that Mr. Jackson did care about his daughter.  He cared enough not to give in to her tantrum and allow her to be a disrespectful brat in his home.  Personally, I would not have spent a night in jail over something like this, but I have to admire this man's principles.

Ultimately, Jackson won in court, but he lost his daughter.  On Valentine's Day last year, the girl wrote a letter to her dad, including Webster's definition of a father.  She wrote that he had never been those things to her and asked him to relinquish his parental rights so she could be adopted by her stepfather.  She hand delivered the letter on a day that is supposed to be about celebrating love.  How charming.  You can't tell me her choice of days to disown her Dad was not calculated to be cruel and hurtful.

According to the Washington Post, Mr. Jackson is now in the process of giving up his rights to his daughter.  Frankly, I can't blame him.  He now has a wife and other kids to consider and his daughter clearly has no respect for him.  She's at an age at which he can't force her to spend time with him and it's obvious that neither she nor her mother care about his presence in her life.  Why should he have to be responsible for her?  Years from now, when this kid may herself be a mother, she will likely perpetuate this same behavior in her own kids.  Unless, of course, she somehow gets straightened out by someone who can show her how destructive these tactics are.

My friend who was arguing with me about this didn't know that Bill went through something very similar back in 2006, when his daughters were 12 and 14 years old.  He, too, received letters disowning him that arrived just in time for his birthday.  Bill considered giving up his parental rights, but ultimately decided not to.  He kept paying child support and hoping that they'd come around.  He sent them heartfelt responses, which they probably never bothered to read.  They had disowned Bill's mother years before, because Bill's younger daughter was supposedly upset that her grandmother had sent her a Christmas card for her birthday (something I HIGHLY doubt ever happened and even if it did, you'd really disown grandma over THAT?).

Bill's kids still don't speak to him and have changed their last names, though they have contacted my father-in-law.  That tells me that someday, they may decide to call Bill, likely because they want something from him.  They would have learned that behavior from their mother, who is the very best model.  To be perfectly honest, I hope they never do contact us.  For the life of me, I can't fathom being so incredibly fucked up and hateful that you'd disown your flesh and blood over a cell phone or a greeting card.  Anyone who would do that is probably not worth the effort.  Life is much too short.

I am relieved to see how many people think this case never should have been allowed to go as far as it did.  I am refreshed to see that so many people realize that Ronald Jackson did the right thing, taking the phone away.  Personally, I would not have kept the phone, but I would have cancelled the contract.  But maybe Jackson and Steppe had some kind of legal agreement that prevented him from simply doing that.  A few people point out that Jackson wasn't around for his daughter's early years.  I don't know why he wasn't.  He was in his early 20s when she was born and may not have been aware of her existence.  Or maybe he was aware.  What I do know is that when she was 12, he had visitation with her and tried to discipline her.  It was his house; she was his minor child; she was being rude and disrespectful.  He had every right to discipline her under the circumstances.  It's scary as hell that a situation like this can lead to jail.

According to the Washington Post article, Steppe said "She’s heartbroken; she’s devastated, and I’m really sad that he’s doing this to her.

“Don’t smear her. Don’t make her look like a sexting teen, an out-of-control teen. Don’t mess with her life.”

Really Mom?  You're the one who "did" this to her.  You didn't back up your daughter's father.  You didn't work this out with him outside of court.  You didn't teach your child any manners or the importance of being respectful.  You escalated this situation to a court room.  And you're "really sad" that she had to testify?  Fuck you.  You and your daughter should both be ashamed of yourselves.  I'm glad to see that karma has kicked in and you're both getting exactly what you deserve.

My friend who was so staunchly defending this mother and daughter finally conceded when I explained to him that my sweet husband, who was there for his daughters from the time they were born and loved and supported them with all of his heart, received very similar letters to the one Ronald Jackson received from his daughter.

Normal people don't disown their parents over cell phones.  It's very clear to me that this kid is a victim of parental alienation, just like my husband's ex daughters are.  If you've never been through it, you have no idea how painful it is.  And so, stories like this one get my heart pumping and raise my blood pressure to the point at which I need to lie down and relax before I have a stroke.  I have to stop thinking and writing about this because I know what lies ahead.  It's not a pretty sight.


  1. i have issues with so many aspects of this case that I don't even know where to begin. I'm mentioning just a few points, which aren't necessarily the most germane to the case.

    I fail to understand why a 12-year-old needs any phone with the capacity to do anything other than to call parents. She certainly doesn't need texting capacity. Perhaps 99% of 12-year-olds have phones with texting capacity,but all such is really accomplishing is creating a generation of entitled brats.

    I've known of other situations -- some not even close to the nature of this one -- in which people with local law enforcement connections take advantage of them to exact revenge. I wish there were more severe and more automatic consequences for anyone found to have engaged in such practices.

    I personally don't agree with the idea of creating a blended family without marriage being in the picture, but that's my own prejudice and really has nothing to do with and in no way excuses the daughter's outrageous level of disrespect. And as far as the daughter's supposed broken heart is concerned, I don't buy that she has a figurative, broken heart, but even if she does, it would be her doing and her mother's, not her father's.

    I also have

    1. Yes. 12 year olds don't need phones, something I pointed out to my friend (the brother in law of Judge Alex). If they have a phone, it should be used to call parents, not to text their buddies.

      I think I read that Mr. Jackson is suing. The Washington Post article mentions that he recanted what he told them because he's going to be on TV. Maybe that's fishy, but if they're paying him, it could be because he needs the money to pay his legal bills. I figure he must have big ones by now.

      And yes to your last point, too. She's a teenager and teens are not known for being reasonable, so this is probably more her mother's fault than it is hers. Once again, while I tend to be pretty liberal about a lot of things, this is why I'm glad I waited until I was married before I had sex. People are way too free with their DNA and it leads to situations like this one.

  2. Did Mr. Sheehan feel that the daughter was in the right on this?


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