Christopher Irwin Gardner
May 18, 1994 - April 1, 1998
Find A Grave Memorial

At least two phone calls were made to a child abuse hotline in New York in an attempt to help a child who was being abused. For whatever reason there was, the two phone calls were ignore, no investigation was done and Christopher Irwin Gardner ended up dead as a result.

Tracy Ann Irwin made a call to 911 and told the dispatcher that her son had fallen down the stairs. Apparently they must have been stairs made of solid concrete and he must have fallen down at least a hundred of them because his injuries were horrible. Christopher suffered a broken jaw, broken arm, but marks, a collapsed lung, lacerated liver, bite marks and cigarette burns all over his body. Apparently, these stairs were booby trapped with all KINDS of things that can hurt a child when they fall down a flight of stairs. Yep, that's sarcasm!

Christopher was taken to the hospital in Poughkeepsie, however, it was too late. At 7:30 p.m. on April 1, 1998, this little Angel who would have been celebrating his fourth birthday in about two months, died, that was bout six and a half hours after the phone call was made to 911:

"The only way I can describe it is that Christopher Gardner was
used as a human punching bag"
Stephen Lungen - District Attorney

Police said that for about three hours, Christopher was beaten by three adults who were angry over what seemed to be that Christopher had taken some candy without asking first. Tracy Ann Irwin was 27 years old, William Banker was 33 years old and Jeanna Lynn Lester was 31 years old when they were all arrested and charged with second degree murder. William was the boyfriend of Tracy and Jeanna was the landlord, they were all held without bail.

Tracy, William, Christopher and one more child lived in one apartment and in another apartment lived Jeanna with her three children. All of the surviving children were taken into protective custody by Family Services and Christopher's father, who lived in another states, was notified about the death of his son.

In June of 1998, Jeanna Lynn Lester plead guilty to felony assault, admitting that she hit Christopher and put his head in a tub of cold water to punish him for taking candy without asking. Jeanna was sentenced to a insulting three and a half to seven years in prison. Jeanna served only four and half years of that sentence and was released in the year 2002.

In September of 1999, Tracy Ann Irwin was 28 years old when she admitted in court that she was guilty in the death of her son. Tracy said that she had heard William and Jeanna beating on her son in the bathroom after Judge Frank LaBuda had asked her about the incident. Tracy said that she had joined in on the beating of this precious little boy after Jeanna left the apartment. Tracy admitted that she had bit her son on the arm, stepped on him with her full weight and then thrown him down the stairs. Tracy's plea of guilty to first degree murder,  meant she did not get the death penalty, however, she got life in prison without the possibility of parole, just like it should have been.

William Banker was 35 years old when he plead guilty to first degree murder and though he had been facing the death penalty, he also accepted a plea deal that meant he would get life in prison without parole, again, just as it should be.

At trial it came out that Christopher had also been scaled with hot water and beaten with a leather belt before being thrown across the room:

"You couldn't find a square inch of his body that didn't have a bruise,
a blue mark or a burn. People who have seen hundreds of dead
bodies will never, ever forget him"
Steve Lungen - District Attorney

On the tenth anniversary of Christopher's death, an article came out in the news saying that promises, rallies, marches that had taken place, that were done to change the way things were done and to stop the abuse, had proven to be pointless. Nothing had changed and it was reported that people were upset that, what was called "inaction" was the only result of of all the efforts.

A law that would require all reports of child abuse by mandated reporters, such as Teachers and Doctors, to be investigated was proposed. The bill that was going to be called The Christopher Gardner Act, died in the Children's And Families Committee even though State Senator John Bonacic's bill, which was what was called a "watered down" version in an attempt to ensure that it would pass, was approved by the Senate several times.

The Chairman of that Committee, Assemblyman William Scarborough, didn't seem to understand what the bill meant and said in an interview that calls from mandated reporters would bypass the state, though in reality, almost all complaints of abuse would first go to the state's child abuse registry. William Scarborough said that mandate reporters are not trained in what to report or how to report it. The reality of that situation was that the state considered mandated reporters to be expert enough in the area and they had their own hot line for reporting abuse.

William Scarborough went on to say that mandate reporters might make calls for "less than charitable reasons" adding that some already had done so, saying that they hold grudges against those suspected of abuse he also sadi:

"You run the risk of overloading the system if you require all
calls by mandated reporters be investigated"

So, William, instead of protecting the child and assuming that those who SHOULD report child abuse and are legally obligated to do it would be responsible about it, you put thousands of children in jeopardy by speaking out against laws that could HELP children? Shame on you!

A spokesperson for the Office Of Family And Children's Services said that about 70% of calls mandated by reporters are rejected and that the state doesn't even keep track of how many of the calls made come from mandated reporters.
Assembly Woman, Aileen Gunther is a former nurse and had been a mandated reporter and she had sponsored the bill that had been carried in the Assembly her late husband, Jake. Aileen Gunther was shocked at the excuses that were being made by William Scarborough:

"We're talking about Nurses and Doctors, Teachers and Social Workers.
Come on. This is pathetic. If you're mandating us to report, why not
follow up? If there's no law, there's no accountability"

"If a call is made by a mandated reporter, shouldn't we give them the benefit
of the doubt? None of these guys, (politicians) has ever been to an autopsy
room to see a child torn apart"
Steve Lungen - District Attorney

"You can't stop evil people from doing evil things, but you can try to
prevent it and punish it more substantially when it does occur. The
legislation we have in now, addresses one way to try and prevent
serious child abuse, mandatory follow up when a trained
professional calls the hotline attempting to report abuse. It says
the hotline can't ignore it"
John Bonacic - State Senator

The hotline is staffed by many people, including former child abuse caseworkers who are considered to be experienced in child protective services and they can screen calls in order to determine if accusations are valid. The Children And Families Committee Chairwoman, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, gave her opinion as for why not all calls from mandated reporters are investigated:

"There has to be some degree of screening because the hotline receives
a lot of frivolous or prank calls. Otherwise, investigating all the calls locally
would burden the system"

Amy Paulin went on to say that it would mean hiring more people to take calls and more money to the state's payroll:

"If you followed up every case and you don't add personnel, you're taking
the child protective workers and giving them twice or one third more case-
loads and you're not following up on the kids that need help and might not
get it"

So what! Hire more people! Get rid of "frivolous" spending by those in Government positions, let people know that CHILDREN ARE WORTH SOMETHING! There should NEVER be a question about spending more money to protect the children in this world. If that means less money for STUPID stuff, so be it. Children are more important than most of the crap that money is spent on by those in Government positions. We could start by lowering salaries and NOT giving FULL salaries upon retirement. Just my opinion of course and then of course I actually CARE about what happens to children.

Christopher was buried in the Hillside Cemetery and his headstone is framed with withered brown leaves and two Juniper Bushes. One of the Juniper Bushes is shriveled and represents that fact that Christopher was never able to grow up. Christopher's headstone says:

"Christopher Irwin Gardner
May 18, 1994 - April 1, 1998
God's Gift Returned to God

Steve Lungen said that he will never forget the gesture from William Banker as he left the court room:

"He gave me the finger"

I want to thank Jennifer for sending me this story and for caring about Christopher.

Death Occurred in the state of New York
This page was created on April 14, 2015

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