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Court orders toddler to be nice in sandbox

Published Mar. 8, 1996|Updated Sep. 15, 2005

Three-year-old Jonathan had better not make little Stacy cry anymore.

Drawing a line in the sandbox, a judge has issued a court order to make the little boy play nice.

"Maybe it's a little emotional, maybe it's overprotective, but you do what you can," said Stacy's mother, Antonina Pevnev, who filed for the restraining order. She said Jonathan kicked her daughter in the head.

The incident took place while the 3-year-olds were playing in the Charles River Park playground. Jonathan had bullied Stacy before, her mom said.

Pevnev went to court, asking that Jonathan _ and his mother, Margareth Inge _ not even be allowed in the playground while her daughter was there.

"I fear that both these people are violent and she applauds and encourages Jonathan to be violent, to fight and kick and to behave in a manner not becoming a responsible child," Pevnev wrote in her complaint.

This week, Superior Court Judge Charles Spurlock decided that the mothers must keep the children supervised and separated while at the playground.

Violators can be held in contempt, fined or even jailed _ in theory, at least. But since it would be tough to prove a 3-year-old knowingly violated a court order, chances are that only the grown-ups would get punished.

Howard Speicher, the boy's lawyer, called the whole thing ludicrous and said it should never have left the playground.

He added: "Maybe it's a sign, and this is coming from a lawyer, of how people are starting to rely too much on the courts to solve problems that just don't belong there."

Inge did not return a telephone message seeking comment.

Where did Pevnev get the idea of the restraining order?

"The police," she said. "They said their hands were tied."

Pevnev has followed up the restraining order with an assault and battery complaint against Jonathan. Why? Again an officer suggested it, saying it would be a good idea to have something on file in case of future trouble.

Pevnev said she would have dropped legal action _ which has cost her more than $800 _ if Jonathan and his mother had apologized or maybe if Inge had just told her son not to pick on Stacy anymore.

Instead, she said, Inge shouted at her after she scolded the boy.

"My daughter was bawling. . . . (Inge was) screaming and yelling, "How dare you talk to my child like that,' " Pevnev said. "I'm not a vindictive person. I'm not a vengeful person. . . . This was the only way you could send this woman a message."

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