Kendra Stocks, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina baptized her 2-year-old daughter at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, and was sentenced to one week in county jail.
According to news reports she is estranged from the child’s father and is embroiled in a custody battle. District Court Judge Sean Smith ruled that Stocks acted in “bad-faith disregard” by baptizing her daughter without consulting the father, Paul Schaaf, which violated their custody agreement.
The court ruled that Schaaf, a practicing Catholic, had the final word in all legal custody decisions, including Roman Catholic practices. The day after the ruling, Stocks christened her child without notifying Schaaf. He found out by viewing photos of the child’s baptism that Stocks had posted on Facebook.
The judge cited Stocks for “criminal contempt” and she reported to jail on Friday, Feb. 16.
Schaff’s attorney, Jonathan Feit, told the Charlotte Observer that Stocks was being punished but ignoring the judge’s ruling:
For our system to work, there ought to be consequences for willfully and intentionally violating a court order. I teach my children that. I reject the notion that anybody else is responsible for what is happening besides Ms. Stocks herself.
Court records note that the child’s baptism had been delayed due to the parents disagreeing over how they wanted their child to be raised in the church. And, Schaaf and Stocks separated after Stocks allegedly refused to add Schaaf to the child’s last name. The judge stated, “The mother has acted selfishly by depriving the father of the ability to be present at an event that was extraordinarily important to him.”
“I’m scared,” The Charlotte Observer quoted Stocks as saying. “I’m sad about what has happened. I don’t regret having her baptized. That was in her best interest … I don’t see how this is in the best interest of the family. Her father is sending her mother to jail.”
Stocks told WSOC-TV from jail, “It’s just very sad. It’s all a very sad situation. I’ll get through this and hopefully come out a better person.”
Should a mother go to jail because she baptized her child?