CLEVELAND, Ohio —
A Cleveland couple is headed to prison for eight years after they refused to seek medical treatment for their cancer-stricken son.
Thursday afternoon, 37-year-old Monica Hussing and 40-year-old William Robinson Senior received the maximum sentence.
In March 2008, eight-year-old William “Willie” Robinson, Jr. died after he collapsed at his home on Cleveland’s west side. Willie suffered from stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a treatable form of blood cancer. His death was later ruled a homicide.
In January 2012, Willie’s parents plead guilty to attempted involuntary manslaughter after they failed to provide medical care to their son.
Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Anna Faraglia said, “There is no excuse this child was not taken to a doctor, none that any human being can even conceive of.”
Willie’s aunt Sheila Slawinski said, “I’m glad it’s over.” During the sentencing hearing, Slawinski told the judge she repeatedly urged her sister to take Willie to the doctor, but she refused. “Twenty-nine months they had to do something, and they chose not to.”
Prosecutors say at the time of his death, Willie weighed just 51 pounds. According to pediatric oncologist Dr. John Letterio, the pain he suffered was immeasurable. “I don’t think you could put a yardstick to the amount of pain that William Robinson, Junior must have experienced.”
“We still do not have unabridged access for healthcare for children; we need to change that,” said defense attorney Tom Rein.
Dr. Lolita McDavid, from Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, testified that no child would be denied healthcare in a case like this. “In Ohio, we cover children up to 200% of the poverty level with health insurance–it’s under Medicaid. We do not turn any child away.”
The judge noted that although Willie’s father showed some remorse, his mother hardly shed a tear.
“The court finds that the offenders have demonstrated a pattern of drug or alcohol abuse that is related to the offense,” said Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab. “This is the one chance Ms. Hussing had to address this court. The anger that she showed toward her sister as opposed to telling this court why I shouldn’t put her in prison was appalling to me.”
“They thought they could get away with it. They thought we’d be quiet … that we would cover up for him. They were wrong,” said Slawinski.
The couple has five other children who are no longer in their custody.