A 49-year old teacher from Utah could face around 15 years to life in prison, after being charged with kidnapping for trying to get a young girl home.
The teacher from Fox Hollow Elementary School, identified as Amy Martz, said that the whole ordeal was just one big misunderstanding. In her interview with the Deseret News, she said: “I did not kidnap a child.”
“I followed a clearly distraught child as she left the school grounds. I felt she was not safe traveling alone,” she continued.
According to the police, the 5-year old girl’s mother contacted the school last September 4 to make a report that her young child, who was autistic and non-verbal, did not make it home from school.
Shortly after, Martz called the department and informed them that the child was with her, and according to the charged documents, they walked more than a mile away from the school.
The surveillance footage showed Martz was walking with the girl hand-by-hand, while another teacher reported that she even tried to give the girl a “piggy-back ride.”
“I had no intent to interfere with the child’s trip home. I was providing safety to what I felt was a vulnerable child because she was distraught,” Martz said in defense. “After a while, I finally realized this cute girl did not know where she was going.”
Martz initially intended to be gone for a short time before the incident took place. She even left her phone, her purse and even her own child.
The teacher believes the language barrier contributed to the mix-up, as the girl’s parents only speak Spanish. Martz later found out that she had a $25,000 warrant of arrest and turned herself in peacefully.
“I take responsibility and regret that the child’s parents were frightened. I was only keeping her safe,” she stated. “It’s a sad commentary on our society when educators who responsibly help children are disciplined and charged with crimes.”