Harrisburg woman’s appeal of sentence for not preventing her son’s abuse denied by Superior Court

HARRISBURG — A Harrisburg woman who did not protect her 5-year-old son from his abusive father will have to serve out her entire 3 1/2 to 7-year prison term after the state Superior Court denied her appeal, according to court documents.

The Superior Court panel upheld the maximum sentence imposed by Dauphin County Judge John F. Cherry against Whitley Sharp, who pleaded guilty to Recklessly Endangering a Child in March 2016.

The boy’s father, James Slaughter III, gave the child a severe beating after the child had soiled his pants, according to police.

Sharp also did not seek medical care for the boy, and told the child lie about the cause of his injuries, according to Harrisburg police. Another relative reported the beating to police instead.

When she pleaded guilty, the Superior Court wrote in its opinion, “Sharp acknowledged that she allowed her boyfriend, the child’s father, James Slaughter III, to repeatedly and severely physically abuse the child, that she failed to take any action to protect the child, failed to seek medical attention[,] and that she told the child not to disclose the abuse to anyone.”

In her appeal, Sharp said Cherry did not consider mitigating factors when imposing the sentence. Sharp’s probation officer testified that she was attempting to escape from Slaughter, remained in contact with her children, and had a turbulent, abusive childhood herself.

But the Superior Court ruled that “the (trial) court merely chose not to give the mitigating factors as much weight as (Sharp) would have liked.”

In those situations, the Superior Court ruling said, “we cannot re-weigh the sentencing factors and impose our judgment in the place of the (trial) court.”