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Dad Arrested, Then Acquitted for Taking Daughter's Phone as Punishment

The Short of It

Dad Ronald Jackson took his daughter's cell phone away after finding a text he deemed rude and inappropriate. But his ex, the girl's mom Michelle Steppe, didn't agree, and she called the police.

The Lowdown

Steppe and Jackson hadn't been a couple for years when police showed up at Jackson's door on the day he confiscated his daughter's IPhone 4 in 2013. But the Texas dad refused to hand it over. "At that point," he told KHOU 11 News, "I decided the police don't interfere with my ability to parent my daughter."

But Steppe, who is now married to a cop, insisted that the phone was hers, and Jackson was issued a citation for theft of property. He was offered a plea deal in January 2014 if he would return the phone. Instead, he hired an attorney and requested a jury trial.

The city attorney's office had the case dismissed that same month and refiled it with the Dallas County District Attorney's office as a more stringent Class B misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. A warrant was issued for Jackson's arrest; the police showed up at his door at around 2 a.m. in April 2015; and Jackson was handcuffed and taken to jail.

"It made no sense to me for them to show up and make a big deal out of something that was a small thing," Jackson said. "I couldn't believe they would go to this extent for a cell phone. It didn't seem right."

He posted $1,500 bail and was released after a night in jail. After just a two-day trial, where his daughter, now 15, testified against him, Jackson was found not guilty.

The Upshot

I, for one, am glad to hear the charges were dropped. Was getting the police involved really necessary? Wasn't Jackson just doing his job as a parent?

Commenters on KHOU's Facebook page seem to think so. "Good job dad," wrote one. "Inappropriate texts are definitely a reason to lose the phone."

"Why would anyone take dad to court?" asked another. "It's called being a good parent."

Sadly however, while Jackson won the case, he told KHOU he has to separate himself from Steppe and his daughter because of this incident. "I can't ever have a relationship with them again," he said.

What do you think; was Jackson right to take his daughter's phone?

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