Mother of Harlem abandoned baby charged

Sandra Bookman reports from Harlem.
March 24, 2014 5:06:43 PM PDT
The mother of an infant found abandoned in a Harlem park Sunday night is now facing multiple charges.

The baby boy was placed inside a stroller and left behind on West 143rd Street across from a firehouse.

18 year old Kenyetta Rowell of Staten Island is charged with Reckless Endangerment, Failure to Exercise Control of a Minor, and Filing a False Report.

New York state has a Safe Haven law which protects parents from prosecution if they leave an infant less than 30 days old at a hospital, police station or fire house. But the law does not apply leaving a baby in the cold across the street from a fire house.

That's what happened around 9 p.m. Sunday across from Engine 69/Ladder 28. After combing the area and checking security camera images, police later tracked down the mother and father and brought them to the precinct in Harlem for questioning.

A Good Samaritan, 56-year-old Michael Allen, said he spotted the infant alone in the stroller in Renaissance Park, which is next to his building and where he volunteers.

"I did what anyone else would do," Allen said. "What is a baby doing out here at this time of the night in the cold?...I couldn't believe my eyes. I needed to come closer to see what was really going on."

He first made sure the baby was OK, then flagged down firefighters returning from a call. They called an ambulance, and the baby boy, believed to be less than a year old, was taken to Harlem Hospital.

"I don't know what their intentions were," Allen said. "All I know is that when I looked out that window, that child was there, and I just couldn't imagine who would leave their child out there that way."

Firefighters say the baby was in good shape, was bundled up very well and was not even crying. He was released from the hospital to the custody of ACS.

"The baby had milk, he was clean, very alert, very handsome child," said Allen. "I don't know what could have happened for a parent or a guardian to leave the child there last night."

Rowell's mother says she is in shock over her daughter's arrest and the abandoment of the child.

She described her daughter as having been depressed due to some emotional problems.