Police say a Sandy woman locked her 4-year-old son in his room while she went to work because there was no one to watch him.
Prosecutors filed five counts of abuse or neglect of a disabled child against the 26-year-old woman on Tuesday in 3rd District Court. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison on each count.
The boy told investigators that between April 1 and June 25, his mother would tell him goodbye and lock him in his bedroom in the morning before leaving for work, according to the charges. She would leave food, water and a port-a-potty in his room for him until she got back at the end of her shift, said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
Neighbors eventually noticed what was going on, Gill said.
The woman told police that she did not have anyone to provide care for the boy and that she left him home alone no more than five times.
A pediatrician reviewed the case, and in her opinion 4-year-olds are incapable of safely caring for themselves for an extended period of time, since they cannot make safe choices, respond to emergencies or access food and water once an allotted amount is gone, according to the charges.
"It is further her medical opinion that psychologically it would be harmful, particularly as a recurring event, to leave a [4-year-old] locked in a room with no access to a caregiver," the charges add.
Gill pointed out that this case is only the latest among four or five his office has screened recently involving parents leaving children unattended. Earlier this month, prosecutors filed charges against a homeless woman who allegedly abandoned her baby in his stroller on a Salt Lake City street.
"It’s important for people and parents to recognize that there are a whole host of social services," Gill said. People can call 2-1-1 for free and confidential information and referrals.
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