Abuse, Granddaughter

Black Grandmother Cries Out For Justice After White Therapist Allegedly Slapped Her 3-Year Old Granddaughter In The Face

Lucretia Johnson seeks justice after her granddaughter was allegedly slapped, dragged and cursed at by a White speech therapist.

Lucretia Johnson, a Black grandmother in Dothan, Alabama, said a white speech therapist, Haley Booker Shay, slapped her three-year-old granddaughter during a session earlier this year at a local clinic located in Doctor’s Center on West Main Street.

Johnson has full custody of her granddaughter, whom she initially took to the facility for her speech impediment. She told BLACK ENTERPRISE that she usually stays with her granddaughter for the duration of her sessions. However, on January 25, she stepped out for a moment and, within ten minutes, heard screams from her granddaughter as she was allegedly being gripped by the arm and dragged to the front by Shay, who she said had slapped her.

The grandmother reported the incident to local lieutenants, captains, magistrates, other government officials, DHR offices, and clinic staff but said no real disciplinary action has been taken.

“How is it that a grown woman can slap a little baby and not be charged with abuse?” Johnson wrote via email. “Is it because she is a white woman, and our black babies’ lives do not matter?”

She told BE that she does not understand what led Shay to allegedly put her hands on her granddaughter.

Civil rights activist Essie Berry called for a federal investigation into the alleged incident that has brought about harassment towards the grandmother, who says she has already endured the invasion of privacy, bright lights being shined into her bedroom and bathroom windows, cameras being turned to face her back yard, vehicles being egged and broken in to, knocking on her privacy fence, racial name calling, and other uncivilized acts of prejudice.

Berry told BE that Johnson has been met with dismissals and minimal support following her request for a written explanation from the clinic regarding Shay’s behavior. She filed a complaint with the Alabama Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (ABESPA), spoke with a representative at the Alabama Department of Human Resources, and reported the incident to the Dothan Police Department, where an investigator allegedly closed the case before speaking with all involved parties or the child.

Johnson said she has been told by legal professionals and the Counsel for ABESPA that “they found no wrongdoing” regarding Shay’s gesture. “These people think that they are above the law because they know others who will help protect them through their corruption,” Johnson stated, recalling previous harassment charges she has filed.

Berry said the legal authorities supposedly assigned to the case are “clearly part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

Photos of the child’s injuries and medical examinations from Dothan Pediatric Clinic PA confirmed mild redness and swelling on her face, noting “Erythematous and swollen (mild).” The medical staff documented these findings, and according to Berry, the child informed medical professionals that Shay not only slapped her but also used offensive language.

Recovery for the child has included a new Black speech therapist. “I noticed her speech is getting better…and she’s remembering more,” Johnson said about her granddaughter. The child is currently in counseling, where her counselor and Johnson constantly remind her that all people are not “bad.” However, Johnson said the white woman’s behavior still shakes up her granddaughter.

The grandmother said Shay was summoned to court; however, she was not arrested or charged with assault. Shay did not appear for an April court hearing, and her attorney entered a plea of not guilty.

An upcoming trial has been scheduled for June.

Johnson has retained numerous copies of evidence from conversations with several officials, some of whom have allegedly tried to threaten her with charges. Although she has been told her case is a waste of time, Johnson hopes that alongside Berry and with help from the community, they can pursue justice and raise awareness of the matter and the racial inequities within the American legal system. They believe the outcome and response would have been different had it been a white girl and a Black woman.

Berry encourages any community leaders or members to reach out at essieberry54@gmail.com.

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