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Child abuse charges dropped, but Pasco mom can't return home

The State Attorney's Office dropped aggravated child abuse charges against a Pasco woman accused of failing to aid a boy who had stabbed himself, according to court records, but Tonya Clem says she still can't return to her home.

Clem, 44, was charged in March after Port Richey Police said she did nothing to help a boy who stabbed himself in the abdomen, then tried to block a family friend's efforts to get him medical care.

"Everyone denies saying all of that," Clem said about the allegations of her conduct. "Nobody will confess. The state attorney investigated and tried to find where it came from."

When they couldn't verify any of the claims in the report, she said the charges were dropped. Still, the arrest had repercussions.

"It ruined my life," she said. "I just want to go home."

Clem said the night of the incident her 16-year-old son had been drinking and using drugs and told police he doesn't remember what happened. Clem said the boy's injury was exaggerated in the police report and that a statement that he was transferred to surgery for his wounds was untrue.

"He got four stitches," she said. After his treatment, her son was temporarily, involuntarily committed for observation under the Baker Act.

Though the charges were dropped, Clem said there is a dependency case pending, which stipulates she can't go home or see her son unsupervised.

She was ordered to go to 16 weeks of drug and alcohol classes and weekly counseling sessions with her son, but she said she doesn't understand why she can't go home if the charges were unfounded. Her son even wrote a letter to the judge, she said, asking that his mother be allowed to come back.

Clem's father has been watching her son and his twin sister, she said, but he's injured and can't drive.

She's a certified respiratory therapist and has been working two jobs to keep up with all her expenses, she said. In the meantime, she's been living at friends' houses.

"I've been homeless for 3 1/2 months," she said.

Contact Jon Silman at (727) 869-6229, Jsilman@tampabay.com or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.

Child abuse charges dropped, but Pasco mom can't return home 07/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 5, 2013 6:43pm]
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