California Nurse May Face Six Months In Prison If Convicted Of Child Cruelty

| by Alexander Rubinstein

A nurse from California faces a criminal charge of child cruelty after she left her daughter inside of her hot minivan while she went shopping. Her lawyer says it was not a criminal act, but a “lapse in judgement.”

Myngan Thi Le, 32, is on trial after leaving her 3-year-old daughter in the car while she went into a mall. 

Le, a registered nurse from Escondido, stopped at a North County Fair Mall in January because she felt sick and needed to use the bathroom while she was driving with her 3-year-old daughter, her lawyers said in their opening statement on Tuesday.

Le’s daughter was reportedly sleeping at the time, so the mother decided to leave the girl in the vehicle while she went inside

Her lawyer told the jurors in his opening statement that she first went to Macy's but the restroom was closed for 15 minutes. Le then went to the Gymboree store while she waited for the bathroom to reopen, reported NBC San Diego.

Prosecutors in the case say it took 45 minutes for Le to come back to the vehicle, and that she was met there by police and firefighters. The officers had broken one of the vehicle's windows to get her daughter out of the car.

Police say they found Le’s daughter crying and covered in sweat with skin that was red and flushed. They said the child had an “extremely elevated pulse.” She had also urinated on the car seat, reports Daily Mail.

Le’s lawyer, Brian White, argued that the child’s crying and elevated heart rate were caused by being surrounded by police officers and strangers as well as the police smashing in the window.

Rosemary Agriesti, a witness who testified, said that she tried to put her fingers through the window to calm the child. Agriesti added that the child cried for more than 25 minutes.

“It wasn't the crying as much as it was very hot that day and she was all red in the face, either from crying or from the heat. I'm not a doctor,” Agriesti said.

The temperature that day was 72 degrees, but police say that it was “significantly higher” inside the vehicle.

Le faces a misdemeanor count of cruelty to a child by endangering her health. If convicted, she could face six months in jail.

Sources: NBC San Diego, Daily Mail

Photo credit: Screenshot via NBC San Diego