A Saratoga Springs woman whose children were taken from her after her high-profile drug and prostitution arrest has been reunited with them.
She is on probation after jail and rehab time and said Friday she is committed to a better life.
Wendy Knowlton-Cook, 38, appeared in City Court Friday afternoon to be formally sentenced to probation after admissions to reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child.
In all, Knowlton-Cook, daughter of race horse owner Jack Knowlton, spent eight months in jail and three months in a drug rehab program.
In an interview with reporters prior to the court proceedings, Knowlton-Cook said she used that time to get herself back together with the goal of being fully reunited with her children.
“When you do the right thing and you do it wholly with your heart and with all sincerity, it shows,” Knowlton-Cook said. “People can recognize that and feel that. That’s what I did.”
Knowlton-Cook was arrested early on Oct. 1, 2007, at State and Swan streets on allegations she prostituted herself and used crack cocaine in front of her children.
She was first arrested as part of a prostitution sting. Police soon learned her 5-year-old daughter and infant son were in a car nearby.
There were also accusations that she prostituted herself in front of the children and even snorted cocaine off her baby.
She admitted Friday she smoked crack cocaine but denied the other allegations.
Knowlton-Cook’s attorney, Jake Hogan, said his client was granted joint custody of the children with her parents. They had been caring for the children along with the father of the baby, Joseph Bryant.
She continues in an outpatient program. Social services officials have been given unlimited access to her home and her parent s’ home. Family court, Hogan said, did not feel the children are in any danger.
“She’s in a much better spot,” Hogan said. “She had some life-changing experiences in that time period. She didn’t have the proper tools in place to combat that. Now, she has a huge support system.”
The reunion of mother and children was done gradually, Hogan said, getting her progressively more involved. “They tried not to rush it.”
She’s been out of the rehab program for about two months.
Knowlton-Cook said she’s had to reconnect with her son. Her daughter, she said, “fell right back into my arms.”
During her time in jail and in rehab at the DayTop facility in Rhinebeck, Knowlton-Cook said she became more spiritual, talking with other patients about recovery and women’s empowerment.
She said she had to look at herself more.
“I made a commitment in this process,” she said. “I surrendered wholly to the creator. I have to come first. If I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of my children. It’s just an everyday commitment to wellness.”
During Friday’s proceedings, Schenectady City Court Judge Christine Clark noted Knowlton-Cook’s progress.
“I’m happy to see you doing much better,” Clark said. “I hope you keep it up.”