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Police: No charges in newborn case



Published: Sat, October 27, 2007 @ 2:00 a.m.

The woman has visited the child and appears to want the baby.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. — Sharon police have decided not to charge a 20-year-old Sharon woman who left her newborn daughter on the steps of a Irvine Avenue duplex earlier this month.

At a press conference Friday, Mercer County District Attorney James Epstein and Sharon Police Chief Mike Menster said the woman appeared to have taken care of the child after giving birth alone in her home and took steps to ensure the baby was found quickly.

According to a release by police, the woman concealed her pregnancy from family and friends before she gave birth at 7 a.m. Oct. 3 alone in her apartment. Police said she severed the umbilical cord, cleaned and breast-fed the infant girl.

At about 5 p.m. that same day, the woman had scheduled her own mother to visit.

Menster said the 20-year-old woman watched as her mother approached the front door and then placed the infant on the steps leading up to her apartment where it was certain to be found. The child was alone for only 15 to 20 seconds, he said.

The woman discovered the baby and called 911.

The child and mother are in good health, Epstein said. The baby is currently under the supervision of the Mercer County Juvenile Court. The mother has had supervised visitation with the child, Epstein said.

“I think she does want the child back, but that won’t be her decision. The child is in foster care, and a judge will decide if she receives the child,” Epstein added.

The district attorney said the 20-year-old woman was able to hide her pregnancy because of her build and how she dressed.

“She was frightened. We think she was in denial a good part of the time,” said Menster of her pregnancy.

They noted the father of the child lives out of state and has been gone for some time. His absence may have contributed to her denial.

Police were able to identify the woman as the mother after receiving a citizen tip Oct. 9.

Epstein said they have decided not to identify the woman because she has not been charged.

“We do not want to stigmatize the mother or the child should they remain in Sharon,” he said.

Epstein said he also took into account that the woman appeared to have cared for the child and did not appear to have acted recklessly, something needed for criminal charges.

The district attorney said he puts much credence in the fact that the child wasn’t discarded somewhere where it could not be found.

“I want to make sure we send a message. We want women who are in similar situations to make the same decisions. We would hope the child is taken to a safe haven,” he said.

Epstein noted that Pennsylvania does designate hospitals as safe havens where newborns can be taken with no questions.

If a woman cannot go to a hospital, he urged women to take their children to other places such as police stations where they can get immediate care.

“I’ve seen in my career babies who were discarded. We think this woman chose life, and we do not want to discourage people from doing that. I think it’s a good message we have to send,” Epstein said.

cioffi@vindy.com


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