2015-12-02 / Front Page

No Charges For Manger Mom

By Liz Goff
The young mother who left her newborn son in a Richmond Hill church on November 23 passed by two other churches before she chose to leave the infant in a Christmas creche inside the Church of The Holy Child Jesus, law enforcement sources said.

Sources said surveillance footage of the 19-year-old mother shows the woman purchasing towels at a 99-cent store on Jamaica Avenue at about 1 p.m. on November 23.

“She chose several large towels from a shelf at the store, paid for them and walked out to the street,” the sources said. “You can see in the footage that she was clearly saddened, tormented as she walked out of the store with the baby in her arms.”

The young mother was seen moments later walking into the church with the baby,” the sources said. “She wrapped the boy in the towels and left him in the creche, then walked out to the street unnoticed.”

Investigators who tracked down and interviewed the young woman a day later determined no criminal charges would be filed against the teen.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the young mother “followed the spirit of New York’s State Safe Haven Law which allows a parent to leave a child not older than 30 days with an appropriate person or in a suitable location.

“It appears that the mother, in this case, felt her newborn child would be found safely in the church and chose to place the baby in the manger because it was the warmest place in the church,” Brown said in a November 25 statement.

A church custodian said he heard faint cries that led him to the manger where he found the baby, swaddled in purple towels, moments after his mother left him. “Whoever did this didn’t leave the baby to die,” the custodian said. “The mother left him in a warm, safe place where she believed he would be found.”

The mother returned to the church on Thanksgiving morning to make sure the baby had been found, Brown said.

Leaving the baby in the church without notifying anyone is a crime under the “Safe Haven” law, but authorities worried that filing criminal charges against this mother could discourage other mothers from leaving their babies at designated places like police stations, firehouses, law enforcement sources said.

The widely publicized news of the baby’s discovery led to a flurry of calls to the church from people across the country, who said they would like to adopt the boy.

The baby, whose name is unknown, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center, where doctors said he was born four to five hours before he was discovered in the manger. After he was given a clean bill of health, he was put in the care of the Administration for Children’s Services. An agency spokesperson said the baby will be placed in foster care for an undetermined period of time, “before he is adopted.”

“God works in mysterious ways,” parish priest, the Rev. Christopher Heanue, said. “The baby’s mother must have been in a difficult place in her life, but she found in this creche, this empty place where the baby Jesus will be in a few weeks, a home for her son,” Heanue said.  

News of the baby’s discovery led to a flurry of phone calls to the church from people across the country who want to adopt the boy, authorities said. Several parishioners have also expressed interest in adopting the baby, authorities said.

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