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Editorial: Responsibility

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Eva Campos wept as she awaited sentencing in a Kew Gardens courtroom. "I'm not a bad person," she said. "I'm a good person."

Judge Richard Butcher was not persuaded. He sentenced the Long Island City mother to 25-years-to-life for beating her 5-year-old daughter, Rosario Ladino, to death with a shoe. The coroner ruled that the little girl died from a lifetime of beatings. The doctors call it "fatal childhood abuse syndrome."

Campos tried to shift the blame for this horrendous crime to the little girl's father. She claimed that she was the victim, a battered woman. The father, Laurentino Ladino, is at best a coward. He admits that he watched and did nothing while the child was abused. He served a year and a half in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter, getting off easy because of his willingness to testify against Campos.

The details of this murder - "syndrome" is far too sanitary a word - are particularly gruesome. The child was beaten for soiling her panties. After the beating, the mother watched as the child writhed in pain and had convulsions for hours and did nothing.

We do not envy Judge Butcher. It is one thing to sentence a mobster or a drug lord to lifetime in prison. But what Campos is accused of doing is an act that defies rational explanation. It can no more be understood than it can be excused.

Years ago state Sen. Frank Padavan proposed legislation that would allow juries to find people like Campos guilty but mentally ill. It would allow the courts to recognize personal responsibility for criminal acts while ensuring that the offender receives mental health treatment during the period of incarceration. This bill continues to linger in Albany. It is hard to imagine why.

Meanwhile, legislation has been proposed that would allow parents to dump their babies

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