NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Leaving your child home alone while you make a quick run to the store is understandable. Doing the same while you to go to Taiwan for the week is probably not a good idea.
However, that is exactly what one Westchester County woman is accused of doing in late March.
Authorities charged Winifred Chaffee, a single mom, with misdemeanor child endangerment for allegedly leaving her 13-year-old daughter at her Croton-on-Hudson home alone while she went to Taiwan from March 21-28.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones gets reaction from area residents
According to the woman’s lawyer, Chaffee had previously been out of work before receiving a business contract overseas. The woman told authorities she left her daughter home to attend school.
Police said Chaffee tried to justify her actions by saying she provided the child with plenty of cash, credit cards and prepared meals for the time she would be away.
Police said that after two days alone in the home, the girl told a friend whose family insisted she stay with them while Chaffee was away.
Residents in the neighborhood were shocked to hear the news, using words like “crazy,” “stupid” and “unbelievable” to describe the situation.
“The extremity that she brought it to is a little bit on the bizarre side,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
Another woman said Chaffee should have had a relative or friend look after her child.
“That’s an accident waiting to happen,” the woman said.
Psychologist Gilbert Backerman said no matter the maturity level of the girl left home alone, police had little choice but to bring charges.
“They have to take whatever potential harm could arise, rather than what actually happened. It may have been a perfectly fine situation, but they had to intervene,” Backerman told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
Chaffee’s lawyer told CBS 2 it was an unfortunate situation. He said his client did try to make sure the child was adequately looked in on and that Chaffee was not a bad mother.
Chaffee appeared in court this week and is now free on her own recognizance. Her next hearing is scheduled for April 28.
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