Mom Arrested, Charged With Child Abuse After Allowing Son, 11, to Drive Golf Cart on Island

Julie Mall, 43, and her family was staying on Bald Head Island last July when she allowed her preteen son to drive them two blocks to their cottage.

Police arrested a North Carolina mother and charged the woman with child abuse after she let her 11-year-old son drive a golf cart back to their cottage while they were on vacation.

Julie Mall, 43, told the Charlotte Observer that she and her family was staying on Bald Head Island last July when she allowed her preteen son to drive them two blocks from the beach to their $1,000-a-day cottage.

Though the ride would last only 30 seconds, an officer on the island spotted the group as they were traveling and allegedly began “berating” the family, Mall claims.

"He was saying, 'how old is this kid?' 'Are you guys drunk?' 'I could write you up for child abuse,'" Mall told the paper, saying she had one glass of wine with dinner hours earlier and no one was inebriated.

Mall admitted that she was wrong to allow her son to drive on the island, where you must be at least 16 and have a drivers’ license to operate a golf cart, which are used instead of cars.

However, the software company pre-sales director and mother-of-two said she took issue with what she called hostile and aggressive police treatment she received.

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The incident escalated after Mall told the officer he should be ashamed of himself for upsetting her children, including her 11-year-old son who she said had begun sobbing while the cop scolded them.

Officer James Hunter, assisted by about four other of the island’s 25 officers, arrested Mall after he said in an official report that she was “agitated and loud, standing in the middle of the street and interfering with passing vehicular and pedestrian traffic.” 

He said he ordered her to move out of the road and refused, but she claimed she was standing off the roadway.

“In attempting to secure the custody of the female, [Mall] dropped to the ground and began screaming and flailing around, refusing to surrender her hands or obey officer commands,” Hunter wrote. “[Mall] was physically assaultive and required me to initiate ground control to secure her custody.”

A video taken of the incident shows Mall yelling while her husband repeatedly asked what was happening.

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Mall was charged with resisting a public officer, intoxicated and disruptive and misdemeanor child abuse. She was taken to the mainland, where Magistrate Brock Holmes, Jr., set bond at $1,000. She was released in time for her and her husband to wait for the first boat back to the island at 5 a.m.

The Village of Bald Island defended the officer and arrest, saying the “officers on scene acted appropriately and in their best judgment for the safety of the child and also of the adults involved.

“As to the specific incident involving Julie Mall, the village believes the arrest report, which is a public record, speaks for itself,” the Village said in a statement to the Observer. “The village denies any allegation that she was treated anything other than as professionally and courteously as the circumstances would allow.”

Mall’s case was ultimately dismissed after Hunter failed to show up for two court dates, though charges could be reinstated by the district attorney’s office any time up to two years after the offense.

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