An Ohio man says he lost his job and was arrested all because his young son wanted to go out and play rather than go to church.
Worse, Jeffrey Williamson says he faces up to six months on a “ridiculous” charge.
Williamson said that his children, including 8 year-old Justin, were outside of their Blanchester, Ohio home when their Woodville Baptist Church van pulled up, according to WCPO.
“‘Hey, Dad, the church van’s here,'” the kids said, according to Williamson. “‘We’re leaving. We’re going on to church.'”
The kids got on the bus, save for Justin who, unbeknownst to Williamson, had other plans.
The boy ended up at a Family Dollar store half a mile away from home.
“He just wanted to go play in the neighborhood,” Williamson told WCPO.
Police were called to the store. When they asked Justin where he lived, he said he did not know. But an employee at the store told authorities where he lived.
Williamson denied that his son did not know his own address.
“That’s definitely totally, totally untrue,” he said, according to WCPO. “He knows his way around this whole neighborhood right here.”
When police showed up to Williamson’s house with his son, he told them that Justin plays outside all the time with other kids in the neighborhood.
“There’s a million kids around here that play. I know the parents. The parents know me,” he said.
Williamson’s other children were being dropped off from church when police took the next step.
“The next thing you know, he comes up to me and he says, ‘You’re under arrest,'” Williamson said, adding that his kids started crying during the scene.
The officer was still at the Williamson house when the church van dropped off the other Williamson children.
“It’s ridiculous to me that I was arrested for this,” Williamson said.
Being cast as a negligent parent had other negative effects. According to WCPO, Williamson lost his job at McDonald’s after the story of the incident was published on the front page of the newspaper.
Williamson said he has another job, but he is scheduled to appear in county court on July 15.
Justin was grounded following the incident, according to WCPO.