Get your tissues because you’re not going to be able to take this story of child neglect. Eight-year-old Willie Robinson had massive swollen glands on his neck for more than two years. As his health got worse and worse, both Willie and his relatives told his parents the boy needed medical attention, but they never took him to the doctor. Willie eventually collapsed and died from highly treatable Hodgkins lymphoma, weighing only 51 pounds at the time of his death.
Yesterday, Willie’s parents Monica Hussing and William Robinson Sr. were sentenced to eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. They received the longest sentence the Cleveland judge could give after having pleaded guilty to avoid trial.
Hussing and Robinson’s lawyers had argued that the parents couldn’t afford medical treatment for their son. More than eight different family members tried to get them to take Willie to see the doctor as he deteriorated before their eyes. The Washington Post reports that prosecutors argued Willie also, “… had begged his parents to take him to see a doctor but was rejected.” Local doctors testified that even if the parents couldn’t afford it, Willie would never have been turned away by hospitals.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the body’s white blood cells and spreads through lymph nodes, thus the softball-sized swollen glands from which Willie suffered. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Hodgkin lymphoma (also known by many as Hodgkin’s disease) is one of the most curable forms of cancer. More than 80% of people treated for the disease go on to live long and happy lives. But not Willie, because he was never treated. What a travesty.
Photo credit: WJW-TV Cleveland