U.S. News

Swedish woman who left baby outside restaurant investigated

AMHERST, Mass (Reuters) - A Swedish woman who police say left her baby unattended outside a Massachusetts restaurant while she ordered food inside was reported to a state agency for possible child maltreatment, officials said on Monday.

Police said they were summoned to the Bueno Y Sano eatery in the western Massachusetts college town of Amherst on Friday after the 1-year-old boy was left alone in his stroller on the sidewalk for about 10 minutes.

The woman, who authorities did not identify, said she “found nothing wrong with the situation” and that it was common in Sweden to leave young children alone outside a restaurant, said police.

The boy reportedly was in good health after the incident.

Amherst police contacted the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to file a report of potential abuse or neglect, said DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen.

The agency is investigating the matter.

A similar incident made international headlines and sparked a transatlantic debate in 1997 when a Danish mother was arrested after leaving her baby daughter in a stroller on a New York City sidewalk to go inside a restaurant for a drink.

A federal jury in Manhattan later rejected her claim that police had falsely arrested her but did award her $66,000 in compensatory and punitive damages following the ordeal.

DCF’s Isaksen said the agency received more than 110,000 allegations of child maltreatment in 2009, the latest year for which data were available.

Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton