Local News

Abducted Child's Mom Charged With Child Abuse

Posted November 21, 2006 7:22 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2006 9:12 p.m. EST

— The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was kidnapped last week has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse, but had she been in another county, she might not have been charged.

Amy Elizabeth Calvin, 22, of Nashville, N.C., turned herself in to Rocky Mount police Tuesday and was released under a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Police said Calvin had left her car running with her daughter inside while she stuck her head inside a convenience store on West Ridge Street in the early-morning hours of Nov. 14 to inquire about some cardboard boxes.

Authorities said that is when a man jumped into Calvin’s car and drove away. The abduction prompted authorities to issue an Amber Alert, and the toddler was found unharmed in her car seat nine hours later in Richmond, Va.

Calvin could face up to four months in jail if convicted.

"I just want people to know this is not a neglect issue," Donnie Poland Jr., the child’s father, said last week. "It’s just a simple mistake that could have turned fatal."

But child abuse prevention agencies, such as Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, say that cases like Calvin’s are not uncommon.

"On any given day, you can go to any parking lot in just about any city and see a child that’s been left alone," said Prevent Child Abuse’s director of communications, Becky Wrisley.

But Wrisley said that, as in Calvin's case, when a child is abducted, parents become accountable.

"Ultimately, it’s our responsibility, as parents, to keep our children safe," she said.

Edgecombe County prosecutors consulted with the state Division of Social Services before deciding on the child abuse charge, but there is no state standard for filing charges against someone who leaves a child in a car unattended. Prosecutors must use discretion.

"It’s very frustrating, as a prevention agency, that there’s not a standard," said Becky Wrisley, director of communications for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that helps prevent child abuse and neglect in all forms.

Prevention agencies, like Prevent Child Abuse, say a standard would establish equality but admit each case is different making a standard difficult to create.

"I think there’s a lot of variance in how people are charged related to child abuse and neglect," Wrisley said.

Investigators have not made any arrests in the case, but authorities have questioned a woman identified as Latesha Louis. The assailant, a black man who was last seen wearing a black toboggan cap, has not yet been identified.

Calvin is scheduled to appear in Rocky Mount District Court on Jan. 3. Calvin has hired a lawyer and plans to fight the charges.

Prosecutors did not return calls Wednesday from WRAL seeking comment.