Black Lives Matter supporter Ariel Robinson and her husband Jerry Austin Robinson were arrested and charged on Jan. 19 with homicide by child abuse in connection to the death of a toddler.
The couple has been accused of beating 3-year-old Victoria Rose Smith to death.
Victoria was placed in the Robinson home by the South Carolina Department of Social Services along with her two older biological brothers. Victoria was found unresponsive on Jan. 14. It was later determined that the child died of multiple blunt force injuries, according to a medical examination.
Ariel, a 29-year-old former teacher and winner of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks In America,” tweeted Jan. 6 that her black and white children are treated the same in her house, but that “won’t be the case” in the real world.
“In my house, my black children get treated the same as my white children, and my white children get treated the same as my black children. It’s a shame that when they go out into the real world, that won’t be the case. #whiteprivilege #BlackLivesMatter.”
“I will never have to worry about my white sons and that makes me happy. What makes me sad is that every worry I don’t have for them will be multiplied for my black sons. Until this is fixed, we are NOT the USA we can be. Justice, fairness, & equality for all! #BlackLivesMatter,” she tweeted.
“It’s a shame that as a proud mom to 4 beautiful boys, I can’t protect them from the reality and evil of this world once they leave the house. However, I will fight and use my voice to make a difference. To bring awareness and change so that one day, that change will come.”
“I’m a Mama Bear, & I’ll do anything to protect my children & make sure their futures are equally bright bc they have the same opportunities & are treated as equals the way God made them. There should be no #whiteprivilege only American privilege. #EqualityForAll #BlackLivesMatter.”
Ariel’s education certificate has been suspended by the South Carolina State Board of Education and the Food Network has removed Ariel’s show from its archives.
“The [South Carolina Department of Education] has reason to believe that, due to the serious nature of these allegations of misconduct, Ms. Robinson may pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of students, who may be under her instruction and that emergency action is required,” a statement from the SCDE reads.
“After considering the evidence presented by the SCDE, the chair of the State Board finds that Ms. Robinson’s educator certificate shall be summarily suspended until a due process hearing is held and/or this matter is otherwise resolved,” the statement continues. “The SCDE is directed to serve notice on Ms. Robinson of the summary suspension, as well as the possible suspension or revocation of her educator certificate.”
Both Ariel and Jerry Robinson’s attorneys have filed motions for discovery in the case.
Ariel’s attorney, William Innes Bouton, argued that she has a clean criminal record, is a lifelong resident of South Carolina, and has a master’s degree from Clemson University. She was a public school teacher until 2019, the attorney wrote.
“…she is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community,” Bouton wrote in a motion requesting for bond.
An investigation into Victoria’s death is ongoing.
Victoria’s biological family, as well as previous foster parents, buried her in a church graveyard in Travelers Rest, South Carolina on Friday.
“Police officers handle all kinds of cases, and these kind of cases can be the hardest for them to do,” Simpsonville police spokesman Justin Lee Campbell told People Magazine. “It is a sad day. You bring charges and maybe convictions, but at the end of the day the life of a child was taken. For anyone who knew the victim or was related to the victim, they are in our thoughts and prayers.”
You can follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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