Exposing a Child to Dangerous Drugs Can Lead to Overdoses

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

A Cambria County mother is heading to state prison to serve a two-year to four-year sentence after her 5-year-old daughter's tragic fentanyl overdose. According to the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry, the mother, 27-year-old Volaura Askew, pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Endangering the welfare of a child
  • Recklessly endangering another person

If you've been charged with any crime against children, you need knowledgeable representation as you move through the criminal justice system. Contact the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team today at 888-535-3686, or provide your details online, and we will get back to you.

Investigators discovered Askew exposed her daughter to heroin and fentanyl in the days leading to her passing. The child was found dead on October 27, 2022, in her Johnstown home. An autopsy confirmed a fentanyl overdose was the cause of death.

How Adult Drug Use Endangers Children

Albert Spicer and Elyse Young, both of Johnstown, also face charges in this case. Askew had been staying at Young's home prior to her daughter's overdose. Investigators have concluded Spicer was a supplier of illegal drugs. Allegedly, he stashed them in Young's home following his release from prison.

Both Askew and Young had used heroin and fentanyl while staying in the home with the five-year-old victim and her six-year-old sister present. Investigators discovered they'd used drugs the night before the 5-year-old's death.

Exposing children to dangerous drugs can result in tragedies like this. Even if a child doesn't experience an accidental overdose, living among drug dealers and users leaves them vulnerable to neglect or abuse.

How ChildLine Reports Work in Pennsylvania

ChildLine is a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Program. Anyone who suspects a child may be in danger can report their concerns electronically or over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Upon receiving a valid report through ChildLine, the relevant agency will investigate. ChildLine receives hundreds of thousands of reports every year.

The warning signs that may cause someone to file a ChildLine report can vary widely. Although individuals filing reports may have good intentions, they can sometimes misinterpret warning signs, suspecting abuse or child neglect when none is occurring.

An initial investigation from a ChildLine caseworker can result in a parent's name being on the ChildLine registry. No conviction is necessary for this to happen. Someone facing a ChildLine investigation may require ChildLine referral defense services.

Being listed in the ChildLine registry can have major implications for a person's future. According to a report from the Civil Practice Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and the Social Justice Lawyering Clinic at the Sheller Center for Social Justice at the Temple University Beasley School of Law, appearing on the ChildLine registry can limit a person's employment prospects. Children may even experience adverse effects. If a parent can't find employment, they and their children may experience economic hardship.

Potential Criminal Charges

Exposing a young child to dangerous drugs can lead to criminal charges, such as endangering the welfare of a child. A parent who exposes a child to drugs may also face various drug charges, such as possession of a controlled substance. Although the mother in this case only received a two-year to four-year sentence, the long-term consequences of her conviction may have a major impact on her future.

Are you facing charges for harming or endangering a child? If so, you need an experienced, knowledgeable defense. That's exactly what the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can offer. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online to get started.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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