NASHUA — Unique Gould, a Nashua mother incarcerated for murdering her 2-year-old son, still has parental rights to a child born after her sentencing, a fact that outrages a Derry state representative.
“It is unconscionable that this baby girl will turn 12 and possibly be sent to this woman when she gets out of prison,” said Rep. Katherine Prudhomme O’Brien. “All I want to do is make sure this doesn’t happen again, and that this little girl is protected.”
On Friday, O’Brien filed a proposed bill that would amend the Child Protection Act to make it mandatory for parental rights to be terminated if a parent has been convicted of manslaughter or murder of another child.
“Instead of this being discretionary, it would be mandatory,” said O’Brien. “This would also apply to children born after the conviction, however there would be a mechanism to appeal.”
Gould, now 24, was pregnant when she pleaded guilty to manslaughter in March 2014 and sentenced to 12-30 years for the beating death of her son. She gave birth to a daughter five months after she reached a plea in the death of her son.
Although Gould’s daughter, who is now 14 months old, has been placed in foster care, Gould still has parental rights to the little girl.
Gould’s uncle, Chris Smart of Derry, is working with O’Brien on the proposed RSA amendment.
“The system has failed,” Smart said.
According to New Hampshire RSA 169-C:24-a
, the Child Protection Act, “the state, through an authorized agency, or if required by a district court, shall file a petition for termination of parental rights or, if such a petition has been filed by another party, the state shall seek to be joined as a party to such petition” when a parent has been convicted of manslaughter of another child.
No petition was filed in Gould’s case, according to O’Brien.
Under O’Brien’s proposed legislation, once a parent has fulfilled the prison term, they could appeal the termination of parental rights by proving that they are completely rehabilitated, prepared for parenthood and can absolutely ensure the safety of the children.
“I know that I will have to work very hard to defend this, but I care about these kids and these cases and what is good for them in the long run,” said O’Brien.
The father of Unique Gould’s daughter, Michael McCarthy of Milton, does not currently have custody of the 14-month-old girl. McCarthy was arrested this past summer on a charge of driving after suspension; the child was taken into protective custody a few weeks later at the end of August.
“She is in foster care, and she seems to be really good,” Smart said of the child, adding Gould last saw the little girl on the child’s first birthday during a brief prison visit on or around Aug. firstname.lastname@example.org