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Diapered Toddler Found in Kroger Parking Lot, Parent Not Cited

The parents of a toddler found standing in his diaper in a Lilburn Kroger parking lot were not cited, according to a police report. Should they have been?

Lilburn Police Department released a report today regarding the case of a toddler found meandering in the parking lot of the Lawrenceville Highway Kroger on Nov. 6.

According to the report, the incident type was that of cruelty to children -- a felony.

About 4:30 p.m., a Good Samaritan saw the child -- wearing a Spider Man T-shirt and a diaper -- when she was driving around the back of the Kroger, according to a Lilburn Police report.

She stopped, looked around for parents, and then when she realized there weren't any around, she took the child into the nearby Legacy Station hobby store to warm up. It is unknown from the report how long the child may have been outside in the cold.

Police were called, and they arrived shortly after. Officials found no visible injuries on the youngster, so the search for the parents began.

They were not in any of the nearby businesses. Eventually, police turned to the woods behind the Kroger.

About 600 feet away, the officer located a home at the 4100 block of Johns Street with the front door wide open. After about five minutes of yelling to see if anyone was home, finally a man approached from inside.

By then, it was about 5 p.m.

According to the report, the officer asked if the man has any children, and he responded that he did. When the officer asked for the man to locate the child, the man could not. The home owner described his 2-year-old son as wearing a Spider Man T-shirt and a diaper.

Police informed the man that his son had been located and was inside the Legacy Station.

Who was supposed to be watching the toddler?

The father told police that his nine-year-old daughter was supposed to be keeping an eye on him. She also was at the residence.

Gwinnett County Police Department also were called to the scene because the home is located in the county. However, when that officer arrived his superiors "declined to adopt the case."

Lilburn Police obtained written statements from the father and the Good Samaritan. The child was turned over to his parent.

After several failed attempts at contacting the Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS), finally on Nov. 14 another Lilburn officer was able to get them on the phone.

Police explained the case to DFACS, in case it wanted to conduct and investigation, and that it was uncertain whether Gwinnett Police would be doing the same.

The case -- which very well could have landed the parent(s) in jail with a felony cruelty to children charge -- was deemed "unfounded" by local police.

-- Should the case be investigated further? Should the parent(s) of the child be cited for cruelty of children? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. --

Angela November 15, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Perhaps all parties need to be investigated. It's ok for a 2 yr old to wander around alone. Lord knows what COULD have happened. I see some serious problems on all parts. And a 9 yr old is not old enough to watch a child! Even with a "parent" home, neither held enough responsibilty for this child. Just absurd.
Bonnie November 16, 2012 at 03:37 AM
We need more information. If it sounds crazy, there's usually more to the story.
full name November 16, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Don't the spiderman costumes come with bottoms? Next time they should shop at Party City.
John Cook November 16, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Maybe he works nights, watches the 2-year-old when he gets home from work, and takes a nap when the 9-year-old gets home from school before he has to go back to work. In this economy, people are working 2 jobs and have weird hours and aren't getting paid much. Maybe he can't afford a sitter. But waking up to find the police at the door should "wake him up" in more ways that one. Maybe he should ask a neighbor for some help.
John Cook November 16, 2012 at 10:17 PM
The 2-year-old didn't have any signs of abuse, so why jump to the conclusion that he would abuse the 9-year-old? He didn't try to pin it on anyone; he merely told the police what happened and answered their questions. Yes, DFACS should check it out, but the Lilburn police seems to have over-reacted by suggesting a felony child cruelty charge when the child showed no signs of physical abuse. It appears to be negligence, but not felony child cruelty (which implies premeditated intent to inflict harm). It isn't like abandoning a child by dumping him in the parking lot. The child wandered away, which happens to most parents at some time, but most don't live next door to a Kroger. The Gwinnett police supervisors didn't seem to think it was a felony case, either.
John Cook November 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM
The operative word in the criminal code is "willfully". The circumstances do not indicate "willful" jeopardizing of the child, nor is a sentence with a minimum of 5 years, maximum of 20 years appropriate for the circumstance. I think the parents will be scared straight. Official Code of Georgia 16-5-70 (a) A parent, guardian, or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge or custody of a child under the age of 18 commits the offense of cruelty to children in the first degree when such person willfully deprives the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the child́s health or well-being is jeopardized. (e)(1) A person convicted of the offense of cruelty to children in the first degree as provided in this Code section shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five nor more than 20 years.
Misty Melvin November 23, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Yes of course the parents should be fully charged!!! This is neglect to this young child. Wow all children seem to be in danger and those around who are to protect fail miserblaly at their jobs... Horrific

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