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Cops: Five-Year-Old Left Home Alone as Mother Babysits

As his mother drove another family's five-year-old from preschool to dance class, she left her own sick child home alone, Darien police said.

A Darien woman left her own sick five-year-old home alone as she went to drive a five-year-old child she was babysitting from New Canaan to a dance class, Darien police said.

All the information in this account (an accusation not proven in court) was provided by police, including statements witnesses gave police:

At 11:40 a.m. Friday, police were called by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families on a report of a five-year-old possibly left unsupervised in a Fairfield Avenue apartment.

Police arrived at the building and were able to gain access to the hallway of the first-floor apartment. They knocked on the door after hearing a child's voice inside.

The child opened the door and told police that no one else was home and that he wasn't supposed to let anyone inside. Police entered the apartment. They confirmed that no one else was there.

Police noticed that the home was clean, the child was in clean pajamas and the child wasn't in school because he was sick. A tray was on a table with food for the child.

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) was called, and they sent a case worker to the scene. While police waited for the case worker, the child's uncle arrived.

The uncle told police he had contacted DCF after the child's father -- who was on a business trip in California -- had called him.

According to the uncle, the boy had been able to call his father using an iPad or similar device the child was playing with, and the father was disturbed that he wasn't able to reach the child's mother. The uncle later gave police a sworn, written statement about the matter.

The uncle told police that the child has an older brother in school. The uncle was permitted to take custody of both boys.

Police were able to contact the mother, Gleice Porretta, 33, and advised her to return to the apartment, where she arrived at 12:20 p.m.

She was driving a vehicle owned by the family of a five-year-old girl she was babysitting. She had left her own child at home to get the vehicle and pick up the girl from a day-care establishment in New Canaan to bring her to dance class, she told police.

She told police she had only been away from the apartment for 30 or 35 minutes.

Porretta was charged with risk of injury to a minor, a felony. She contacted the family of the girl she was babysitting and members of that family retrieved the girl and the vehicle.

Porretta, who also has a job at a Darien restaurant, was released on a promise to appear Monday, March 24, in state Superior Court in Stamford.

She was released on the condition that she has no further contact with her children until she spoke further with DCF.

Editor's note: Here's a list of frequently asked questions about reporting abuse and neglect to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

Correction: In a previous version of this article the first name of Gleice Porretta was misspelled.
Porter gladstone March 20, 2014 at 06:36 PM
Should you leave a 80 year old with dementia home? I just need to understand all the possibilites that might occur, because without these insightful observations , no one would be able to imagine what dangers exist. So far electrical shock, choking.
max March 21, 2014 at 09:16 AM
What MIGHT happen is anything, but what has the highest probability of happening is what you should focus on, nt all of the what might's. This 5 yr old seems competent, can use a phone, was well behaved (house was not a mess) and knows the rules. Parents should generally have the most say in a family, NOT the government or their neighbors. If concerned, call police, they assess it fine, contact mother and move on. They rest of you can go worry about yourselves.
Preston Bealle March 21, 2014 at 09:27 AM
Times are different now, but just as a frame of reference, when I was 5 in the 1950's, I flew alone from New York to New Orleans. The plane stopped at Atlanta, and I got off the plane for half an hour, walked around the airport and got back on the plane. Obviously the stewardess knew I was alone, but she didn't stop me from leaving the plane and assumed I would get back in time. And, of course, at that age we walked all over a neighborhood for up to, say, 3 hours and went home for lunch or dinner. A 5yr old is not helpless. Not advocating for leaving them alone at home, but I can see it for a short time.
Dawn Clabaugh March 26, 2014 at 05:34 PM
Sort of interesting that nobody has anything to say about the FACT that this mother was apparently in a situation where she had to make a choice ... and quite possibly, she didn't like either of the alternatives. I don't know WHY she didn't take her own child along, maybe there was no car seat available. But I HAVE been in the same situation; faced with two "impossible" or at least "disagreeable" choices ... also knowing that the ex (and some of his relatives) were just waiting for something to pounce on. Pretty obvious there is some "bad blood" or personality disorder or SOMETHING at work, because I can only wonder that this mother did not 1)feel comfortable calling the uncle for HELP and 2) that the uncle called the authorities FIRST. Pretty sad that we live in a nation that is destroying families and making it a near necessity for ALL parents to work; the whole thing is a shame. Too bad more people don't see their own part in it ...
Dawn Clabaugh March 26, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Oh ... and just a BTW ... if a concerned parent tries to call first to find out whether an act is "okay" or might be construed as abuse/neglect (gray areas) they will most likely NOT get any useful answer. Because it often is "a case by case" basis ...

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