A man who was arrested for confiscating his daughter’s iPhone has been found not guilty at a US court.
Ronald Jackson, from north Texas, confiscated his then 12-year-old daughter’s iPhone 4S during a 2013 access visit, upon discovering inappropriate text messages about his new partner, The Washington Post reported.
“I was being a parent. You know, a child does something wrong, you teach them what’s right,” Jackson told television station CBS DFW. “You tell them what they did wrong and you give them a punishment to show that they shouldn’t be doing that.”
The girl’s mother Michelle Steppe initially sent Jackson a letter of demand to retrieve the phone. A two-year police and legal pursuit then followed, culminating in Jackson’s arrest in April last year.
Steppe’s fiance is a police officer, although a local police spokesperson denied that this was a factor in the case.
"We do not like these kinds of instances to go into the criminal justice system," the spokesperson told local television station WFAA. "We prefer to keep it out and the phone be returned and let the parents, the two adults, let them work it out among themselves."
Last week Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Green instructed the jury to find Jackson not guilty, citing insufficient evidence.
"I stand behind him taking the phone for punishment; I don't stand behind him not returning the phone to me when the visit was over," Steppe told The Washington Post.
"Parents have the right to discipline their kids. I've taken away phone privileges... It had to do with giving back property that did not belong to him."
Steppe said that the relationship between Jackson and their daughter has been irreparably damaged, with the now 15-year-old demanding he relinquish parental rights so that Steppe's partner could formally adopt her. That case is still pending.
Jackson still has the iPhone, according to WFAA.