Washington state

Trip to Dr. Phil draws rebuke for boy's mother

The mother of a 9-year-old boy who made headlines last month when he ran away from home and got on a plane to Texas was reprimanded at a court hearing Wednesday for taking her son out of state to see Dr. Phil.

Sakinah Booker, 29, told Pierce County prosecutors and the juvenile court judge that she took her son to California to do a taped show with television host Dr. Phil McGraw to get counseling for her son.

According to Booker, Dr. Phil was able to arrange for the boy to get help from a counselor in Seattle.

She and officials at the Tacoma church where she has sought shelter have said it was nearly insurmountable to get through the red tape needed to get social services and counseling for her boy, Semaj Booker.

The fourth-grader, who said he hated Washington and the Lakewood neighborhood where his family lived, had run away from home Jan. 15, gotten through an airport security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, boarded a plane and flew to San Antonio before being detained there.

The boy had said he wanted to get to Dallas to see his maternal grandfather and be reunited with other family members there.

Prosecutor Fred Wist accused Booker's mother of violating the terms of her son's probation, which has him under house arrest and specifically restricts the boy from leaving Pierce County.

In April, the boy faces another court hearing to determine whether he is mature enough to be prosecuted for allegedly stealing a neighbor's car and leading police on a high-speed chase down state Route 512 the day before his headline-making flight.

The prosecutor did not ask the judge to hold Semaj or his mother in contempt, but he and the judge asked Sakinah Booker to be mindful of the probation restrictions and to ask permission from the court before making future travel plans.