Charges Dropped Against Joshua Tree Couple Accused of Child Abuse

Kitty Alvarado

A judge dismissed all charges against Daniel Paniko and Mona Kirk the Joshua Tree couple charged with felony child abuse in February.

Kirk says justice delayed feels like they were denied of their rights all together, “Of course we’re glad they were dismissed but we feel they never should have been filed in the first place.”

Police said they arrested the couple after they found them and their three young children living in a makeshift home on their Joshua Tree property. Their children were taken from them for months. 

“I will never forget because this all happened on our middle son’s thirteenth birthday, it happened on February 28th … We had many places to go and they still took them away on his thirteenth birthday,” says Kirk.

All along their neighbors and friends said they’re wonderful people just going through tough times and did not deserve to be thrown in jail accused of the terrible crime of child abuse.

While the court now believes they do not pose a threat to their children and are all together, Kirk says this experience has left them traumatized, “It struck terror in all of us … I still have nightmares about being in jail … I feel like we’ll be walking on eggshells for the rest of our life.”

Still Kirk says the family has a lot to be thankful for, like being reunited with her children and having a place to call home with the help of many who donated, “We are so appreciative to everyone in the world that helped us,” adding that she doesn’t know where she’d be without those who believed in them, “if we had not had all this help we would still be rotting away in jail.”

She says her eyes are now open to a problem, “Children are just taken out of their homes way too easily and the battle to get them back is practically insurmountable,” a problem she now wants to solve, “we know that we have a mission to change how things are done in the world.”

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