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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker urges dropping child abandonment charges against woman, 22

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez

By John McPhaul

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez asked Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández on Wednesday to eliminate all the charges filed against Elianni Bello Gelabert, a young woman who is accused of child abandonment.

“I have been following this case very closely and there is no doubt that the system failed this young mother,” Méndez Núñez said in a written statement. “The filing of charges, including one for abuse and neglect for allegedly having left the minor abandoned, is another trauma that is added to this chain and that is not right. The state failed to help this young woman and she should not be subjected to an unfair process in the face of that fact. That is why I make a request to the Secretary of Justice to reassess the situation and eliminate the charges filed.”

“Faced with a gloomy scenario, and without the help that was supposed to be provided, Bello Gelabert was arrested for taking her daughter to the house of her paternal grandmother, the only relative the minor has on the island,” the veteran New Progressive Party lawmaker pointed out. “What this young woman did is find an alternative for her daughter, not abandon her. I have always advocated for adoption and for the right of a mother, free and without fear of persecution, to give her child that opportunity; what Elianni did was give her daughter an opportunity and that should not be penalized.”

“I reiterate the request to the Secretary of Justice, you have to look at this case from a fair perspective,” Méndez Núñez continued. “The facts are that Elianni, a young woman from the Dominican Republic barely 22 years old, facing a system that did not give her the help she required, homeless and without other assistance, was faced with a difficult decision. That is not the same as committing a crime, never.”

Press reports indicate that a judge amended the bail imposed so that it is one dollar, so the woman will be released from jail. However, the charges against her remained in place as of press time.

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