Mom Charged After Leaving Daughter With Special Needs At Hospital
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A South Carolina mother is charged with child neglect after leaving her 12-year-old daughter, who has a developmental disorder that causes behavioral problems, at a hospital and refusing to pick her up, according to police.
Heather Bryant, of Chesnee, was charged earlier this month with unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person, according to Maj. Art Littlejohn of the Spartanburg Police Department. She was released from jail on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond, Spartanburg County online court records show.
Police responded to Spartanburg Medical Center on Nov. 11 after someone reported an abandoned child in the hospital’s behavioral unit, according to a police incident report.
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A case worker with the Department of Social Services told officers she talked with Bryant on the phone, and Bryant told her she was not coming to pick up her child. The girl is 12 years old, according to Littlejohn.
Bryant told officers by phone that her daughter has Smith-Magenis syndrome, according to the report.
Smith-Magenis syndrome is a developmental disorder that can cause intellectual disability, delayed speech and language skills, distinctive facial features, sleep disturbances and behavioral problems, according to the National Institutes of Health website. Behavioral problems can include temper tantrums, outbursts, aggression and anxiety, the website states.
The mother said that on Nov. 10, she was trying to change her daughter’s diaper when the girl pushed her to the ground, causing her to go to the emergency room for a bruised arm that was put in a sling, according to the report. On Sunday, she awoke to find her daughter trying to put her fingers in an electrical socket.
When Bryant and her son tried to restrain the 12-year-old, the girl tried to get spoons and forks to stop them, the report states. EMS came and took the girl to the hospital.
A nurse called Bryant and asked her to come pick up her daughter, police said. She told them she was not coming to get her and asked that the girl be placed in DSS custody “because she cannot care for” the girl and worries about her daughter harming her or her other children.
Bryant also told officers she thinks her daughter is not safe in their home and “would get treatment needed under DSS care,” the report states.
Bryant faces up to 10 years in prison, if convicted on the felony charge.
Across the country, so-called “safe haven laws” allow mothers in crisis to safely give their babies away to a loving family. In South Carolina, “Daniel’s Law” was named after a newborn who survived after being buried in a landfill.
The law allows a mother to surrender her unharmed, newborn baby at a designated location, including hospitals, fire departments or houses of worship. However, the law only applies to children up to 60 days old, and the person leaving the baby has to provide medical information about the baby’s parents.
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