NEW YORK — A mother who left her newborn baby in a Christmas manger inside a New York City church will not be prosecuted, authorities said Wednesday.
“After a full review of all the facts and circumstances surrounding the discovery of a newborn infant this past Monday in a creche inside of Holy Child Jesus Church in the Richmond Hill section of Queens County – including locating and interviewing the mother – my office has determined that no criminal prosecution of the child’s mother is warranted,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
It was around 11:30 a.m. when a custodian at the church left the empty chapel to get lunch. When he returned shortly after 1 p.m., he heard a baby crying, but saw no one else around.
That’s when, New York City police said, the custodian turned to a nativity scene in the front of the church and saw a newborn baby wrapped in towels laying in the manger. Church pastor Christopher Heanue wrote on the church’s Facebook page that the baby was a boy and weighed a little more than 5 pounds.
Emergency crews brought the newborn to a local hospital, where he was in good health, police said.
New York has a so-called safe haven law that says a newborn can be dropped off anonymously at a church, hospital, police or fire station without fear of prosecution. But the law, known as the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, requires that the child be left with someone or for authorities to be called immediately.
Police said that didn’t happen in this case, which led investigators to begin searching for the mother.
In deciding not to bring charges, Brown said the mother followed the spirit of the Safe Haven law.
“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, and further she returned the following morning to make certain that the baby had been found,” Brown said.
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