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Imperial mother's effort to protect her son lands her in trouble

KMOV.com

Posted on March 14, 2012 at 9:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 15 at 11:30 AM

(KMOV) -- A mother's anger and effort to protect her son land her in trouble with the law.

Sherrie Gavan, a 51-year-old mother from Imperial, is charged with third-degree assault after attacking a man she says was dealing heroin to her son.

Sherrie wants you to ask yourself, what would you do to protect your kids?  She's clearly a hero to parents with kids addicted to heroin.  As of Wednesday night, more than 1,100 people "liked" the Facebook page in her honor, which is described on the site as "Standing with Sherrie Gavan for protecting her son and herself from an alleged heroin dealer!!"

"You get to a point where you just don't know what to do," Sherrie Gavan said.  "All you want to do is save your child's life."

Sherrie says she was at her wits end after watching son Clayton struggle to kick his heroin habit.  When Sherrie says she got no help from police, she decided to confront the man she says was dealing heroin to her son.  She says she thought he had a weapon in his hand, so she struck him in the arm -- twice -- with a bat.

"I was just a mother who didn't know what to do," Gavan said.  "A mother who loves her children and who didn't want to bury her child."

Many parents can sympathize with Sherrie, but the sheriff says the law is designed to protect everyone.

"Unfortunately we're in a catch-22 here," Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer said.  "I mean, even though we understand her frustration, we still have a sworn oath to uphold the law."

The Gavans say there are only two ways out of heroin:  get clean or die.

"Any dealer will give [someone] the first hit or two to get them hooked because they know once they get them hooked, it's game on; they've got a customer," Bryan Gavan, Sherrie's husband and Clayton's dad, said.

He now buys drug tests 50 at a time to randomly test his son, because he says, once Clayton kicked heroin, dealers became vultures in an attempt to lure him back.

The whole family is now committed to helping keep Clayton clean.  In addition to the drug tests at all hours of the day or night, Clayton's little brother Dalton keeps tabs on him through friends and neighbors.  Fellow employees are also in on his recovery, letting his parents know what he's like while at work.

"I want him to live, I want him to survive, and he can't survive without something to shoo away the flies," Bryan Gavan said.

We'll continue to follow Clayton's road to recovery and let you know how Sherrie fares in court.

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