For two years, Ronald Jackson has battled the courts for attempting to interfere with his parenting
In a legal battle that has lasted more than two years, a Dallas father has been found not guilty of stealing his daughter’s iPhone after confiscating it during a heated row. Ronald Jackson, 36, had taken the phone from her as a punishment and was refusing to give it back to the 12-year-old’s mother, his estranged former partner, who had purchased the device.
A Dallas County Criminal Court judge ruled last week in favour of Jackson, advising the jury to find him not guilty due to lack of evidence.
The phone was confiscated in September 2013 when he saw his daughter sending a text that he thought was inappropriate. Struggling to get on with her father’s new girlfriend, the young girl sent a message to her friend saying: “I don’t like his ratchet girlfriend or her kids.” Ratchet was a slang word used by young people at the time to describe someone as being lower-class and clueless.
Taking her phone away as punishment, the girl called her mother, Michelle Steppe, and within hours police officers were at Jackson’s door demanding he return the phone.
“At that point, I decided the police don’t interfere with my ability to parent my daughter,” Jackson told a local TV news crew.
Still holding on to the device, Steppe sent him a demand letter. This was then followed by a citation for petty theft, and because Jackson refused to engage with the court, the case progressed to the point where he was charged with a Class B Misdemeanour, for the theft of an object worth less than $500. In April, police apprehended him at his home, releasing his after he posted bail.
Grand Prairie Police spokesman Lyle Gensler said that officers did not wish to see the case progress all the way to court and they attempted to convince Jackson to return the iPhone.
“We do not like these kinds of instances to go into the criminal justice system,” Gensler said. “We prefer to... let the parents – the two adults – let them work it out among themselves.”
Although the case was thrown out of court, the affair has not proven positive for the relationship between father and daughter. Michelle Steppe said that her now 15-year-old daughter wants Jackson to relinquish his paternal rights so she can be adopted by her stepfather. The case is pending in a Dallas family court.
Jackson still has the iPhone in his possession.