A couple has been charged with attempted cruelty for allegedly leaving their toddlers in a car in the cold this past weekend while wine tasting at an upscale restaurant in Washington, D.C., authorities said.
Christopher Lucas, 41, and Jennie Chang, 46, were arrested on Saturday after police responded to a concerned caller who said that two children were unattended in a car at about 3:44 p.m., D.C. police officer Araz Alali told ABC News today.
The car, a grey Volvo station wagon, was locked, and the engine wasn't running, according to court documents and Alali. The temperature at the time was around 33 degrees, though an hour before it was below freezing.
"The children were left unattended for about an hour when the parents came out of Ris restaurant, where they were attending a wine tasting," Alali said. "The children were taken care of by the cops and taken to Family and Child Services."
The boy was 22 months old and the girl was 2 and a 1/2 years old, according to court documents. Both children were wearing coats but neither was wearing hats or gloves, and the girl was crying hysterically, the court papers stated.
When an officer approached Lucas as he was unlocking the door to the car, Lucas told the officer that he was using an iPhone to monitor the children, according to court papers, and the manager at the restaurant later told the officer than Lucas and Chang had been inside the restaurant for about an hour. Lucas and Chang were arrested on the scene on charges of second-degree attempted cruelty to children, Alali said.
Lucas and Chang plead not guilty at their arraignment on Monday and were ordered by the judge to stay away from the children, according to court documents.
D.C. Family and Child Services did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on the current status of the children.
The next hearing is scheduled on Feb. 18. If found guilty, the couple could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in jail.
Lucas and Chang were seen on video running from reporters into a taxi after leaving the court building.
ABC News called the couple several times for comment, but no one picked up at their home in D.C. And court documents did not disclose whether the couple had an attorney.
"The D.C. police department takes the protection of our children as a serious responsibility," Alali told ABC News. "We will hold anyone who puts children in jeopardy responsible.