HOLMES BEACH – The child abuse charge levied against former Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Deb Wing has been dropped.
The charge stemmed from an April 4 arrest by the Holmes Beach Police Department. The arrest occurred after officers responded to a call from Wing, who was concerned that her teenage daughter left during a family disagreement and had not returned. In their police reports, the arresting officers alleged Wing repeatedly slapped her daughter on the arm and leg.
The dismissed charge was formalized during a Friday, May 4, hearing at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton.
Later that day, Wing’s attorney, Brett McIntosh, said, “The notice of case action has been filed, which means the charges are formally dropped. Or to be more accurate, the prosecutor has completed his review of the case and declined to file any charges. It is over; it’s done. I think it was unfortunate that she was ever arrested. I don’t think she should have been arrested, but I’m glad that it’s over and the correct decision was ultimately made.”
Wing did not appear at Friday’s hearing, but she discussed the matter when contacted Saturday.
“I saw someone from DCF (Florida Department of Children and Families) who was visiting on another case, not mine. While he was there, he heard my case and said in his 12 years he’d never heard of an arrest being made for something like that. He said it should have never happened. When DCF came to interview me, the woman who had nine years’ experience said this would never happen in Bradenton when a parent calls to protect a child. There are no physical marks on the child, and it is not illegal if you did slap her more than once – and I’m not saying that I did,” Wing said.
“My daughter got up before the judge, and he asked what she thought was going on and whether she was worried about it. My daughter said, ‘I love my mom, I’m not afraid of my mom, and this should have never happened,’ ” Wing said.
“This has caused a horrible mess for her amongst her peers and for me amongst my peers,” she added. “It changes lives. I knew this was going to go away. I was told from the beginning nothing illegal had been done. It was a night of a mother and a daughter going through something very trying – a daughter wanting to leave the house and a mother not wanting her to leave under those circumstances and trying to keep her safe. She left anyway, and after 40 minutes, when my boyfriend couldn’t find her, I called the police and said please find her.”
“My daughter had already called my boyfriend and said please bring me home,” Wing said. “She wasn’t afraid to come home. For whatever reason, I believe those officers were determined to make an arrest. They never read me my Miranda rights. They never told me why I was being arrested. They didn’t tell me while I sat in the car, and they didn’t tell me while I sat at the police station. I had to ask three times. The D.A. (district attorney) doesn’t think an arrest should have been made. Nobody thinks an arrest should have been made.”
“I think there’s an issue going on there, and I feel bad about the message this sends out to other people who might want to protect a family member,” Wing said. “It’s a shame. I can tell you I won’t call them again if my daughter’s missing for an hour, or if someone else calls me about their kid missing. I’m in a very close group of mothers, and anyone who knows me knows I have never hit anything or anyone in my life.”
“Kids do have problems. This was not drug-related or anything, and they do feel the need sometimes to run out the door to express their feelings, and it can be very scary. I hope this case doesn’t deter someone from keeping their children safe,” Wing said.
Wing resigned as Chamber president in December.