Mom Charged With Child Endangerment for Letting Kids Go to Mall Alone

Bridget Kevane faced child endangerment for letting her kids go to the mall.

ByABC News
July 17, 2009, 4:19 PM

July 20, 2009 — -- When Bridget Kevane dropped her three children and their two friends off at a Montana mall in June 2007, she never thought that a few hours later she'd have a criminal record.

But that's what happened when Kevane let her daughter Natalie, 12, and her best friend of the same age take three younger children -- including Kevane's 3-year-old daughter -- to the mall without adult supervision.

"I was definitely in shock," Kevane told of her initial reaction when told that she would be charged with a criminal offense because of her decision to let her kids roam the mall alone.

Under Montana State law, a parent can be charged with child endangerment if he or she "knowingly endangers the child's welfare by violating a duty of care, protection, or support."

When the two 12-year-olds went inside a Macy's dressing room to try shirts on and left the three younger children, ages 8, 7 and 3, unattended, an employee called mall security. Police were called to the scene and they summoned Kevane and her husband to the mall and arrested Bridget Kevane. She was allowed to leave the mall with the children, but given a court date for a few days later.

"I really thought I could make the policeman understand that there was some mistake or some misunderstanding," said Kevane, who ended up having to call a bail supervisor every Monday for six months as part of a deal her lawyer brokered with prosecutors.

Kevane, 45, who wrote in an essay published in this month's issue of parenting magazine "Brain, Child," said that her decision to let the kids go to the mall unsupervised stemmed from the fact that "the children wanted an activity, and I wanted a couple of hours of quiet and rest."

Further justifying her decision was the fact that the two older girls had both completed a babysitting certification course at a nearby hospital and that the group of five children consistently spent time together and were like "extended family" to one another.

"I have faith in my daughter... I had no reason to doubt her," Kevane said.