ABC News’ Ali Ehrlich and Lauren Sher report:
A Utah mother, who allegedly forced her son to walk alongside a moving car she was driving after he had missed his school bus, has been charged with child abuse and reckless driving, ABC News has learned.
Stacie Johnson, 37, reportedly was angry that her 9-year-old son had missed the bus to school one too many times, and was again refusing to walk. But what Johnson may have thought was teaching her son a lesson, turned into criminal charges Monday, 11 days after she was arrested in the incident.
“He had missed the bus repeatedly … he refused to go to school,” Johnson, who said she is a graduate student with an internship, wrote in an email to ABC News. “The reason I did not walk with him is that I was already late for work.”
Police responded to a call on Jan. 26 reporting that a boy was being pulled alongside a moving car by his belt, which was being held by the female driver, as it headed down a Woods Cross neighborhood street.
Woods Cross Police Chief Greg Butler told ABC News that Johnson was driving at a slow enough speed that the boy could keep pace with the vehicle, but that he could have been hit by traffic driving in the opposite direction.
Police turned the case over to the Davis County District Attorney’s office and Johnson was charged Monday with child abuse, a class A misdemeanor, and a class B misdemeanor of reckless driving.
While the story has been making its way around the internet, Johnson’s identity was not known until after she was charged Monday.
Johnson told ABC News that contrary to other media reports, she did not “drag her son through the car window in the middle of the road,” but rather that the door was “ajar” as she drove slowly to the side of the two-lane road.
She retains custody of her 9-year-old son and another son, age 12. Johnson said that her younger son has struggled emotionally ever since she and his father divorced about four years ago.
ABC News’ Katti Gray contributed to this report.