Prosecutors in Brooklyn have dropped a felony assault charge against a Caribbean American legislator accused of beating her pre-teen son with a broomstick.
New York State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, the daughter of an Aruban mother and a St. Martin father, who represents the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn, was arrested on Nov. 5 when her 12-year-old son walked into the nearby 71st Police Precinct to complain about his mother, who allegedly left his arm bruised after the beating.
Richardson was initially charged with felony and misdemeanor assault charges, but after “careful consideration” and speaking to the child’s father, prosecutors dismissed the top offense, according to the New York Daily News. The son’s name was withheld because of his age.
But despite having the felony assault charge dismissed, Richardson still faces up to a year in jail for the remaining misdemeanor charges, the Daily News said.
“This is still a stressful situation for her, but she’s moving forward,” Richardson’s attorney, Joyce David, told reporters outside of Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Richardson also has a modified order of protection through family court and is allowed to see her son during unsupervised visits at the child’s father’s home, the Daily News said.
The son told cops that his mother hit him on his left arm as discipline over his grades, the paper said.
The boy was taken to a local hospital for an abrasion to his arm, according to the criminal complaint.
Richardson, who counts her son as her “greatest accomplishment” on her state assembly member biography page, was charged with second-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.
The assault charge was a felony, while the others are misdemeanors, said Arlene Muniz, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Richardson, who was elected in May 2015 on the Working Families ticket, represents the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Wingate and East Flatbush.
The legislator is said to be a devoted single mother whose only child often accompanies her to political events.
Bill Lipton, New York State director of the small, left-leaning Working Families Party, said Richardson was committed to her son.
“He’s a really good kid,” he told the New York Times. “He’s super-precocious. I’ve seen her and her son together for many years. It’s a very close, loving relationship. He was on the campaign trail with her all the time.”
Having been briefly homeless as a teenager, Richardson put herself through Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY) and later earned a master’s in public administration from Baruch College, CUNY, according to the Times.
A close friend, Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, the Jamaican-born former New York City Council member and the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the City Council, said: “Education is the key to everything, to any success that one would have” in the Caribbean.
Clarke, who considered Richardson a “second daughter,” added that part of the discipline is cultural.
“Caribbean parents don’t care if it’s the weekend or midweek,” she told The Times. “There are expectations that we have for our children, and education comes first.”