‘I’m totally dumbfounded’: Mom faces charges after letting 7-year-old walk to park alone

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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.



  • Alan Ross

    Guess I’m old school… I was allowed to go to the park alone at 5. And I had no option about walking to school alone. Times change.

  • christmanland

    Why did she have to be arrested? Even the state Attorney said there is no law. If they were that concerned – why couldn’t they have just brought the boy home and spoke to the mother – like they used to. They are so quick to arrest people. Now, if (and I hope it is a very iffy “if) ) she is convicted of this – she will be labeled with child neglect for the rest of her life and the real reason will never be known. People are branded with legal terms that for so many – have nothing, or very little, to do with the reason they were arrested. As Alan said – I too was allowed to walk everywhere at that age and my parents would have been in prison for life.

  • Sasha Asdourian

    I walked to school alone at that age as well? Do the cops know something that we don’t about the amount of pedophiles on the street? I personally wouldn’t allow my kid to go w/o a friend or adult, but arrested? C’mon.

  • Phurius

    I used to take my 2yr old brother when I was 8 to the beach on the bus by myself. Police are stupid, they can’t discern simple things on a case by case basis!

  • christmanland

    I agree with you, whether or not you would personally allow or not. If the police know there are that many pedophiles, why don’t they patrol the area more, notify all the parents, or shut down the park? Even if the parents are there – what are they supposed to do if a pedophile attempts to do something – attack them on their own and risk their child’s and their own lives? Arresting the parent is wrong………..

  • Beautifulmind

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand why people think we live in a world filled with rainbows and unicorns… I wish I would let my seven year old walk to the park alone and if he would of got snatched up body found in the river the mother would’ve caught a heart attack… This is not back in the days when other adults use to look out for kids who didn’t belong to them

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