34-year old Nicole V. Oates has been accused of endangering her 4-year-old daughter by locking the child in her room multiple times at night while she stayed at her boyfriend’s place.
She waived a hearing Monday on a felony count of child endangerment and remained free to await further court action following her appearance before District Judge Eric J. Taylor in West Reading.
According to the criminal complaint: On May 2 at about 8:15 p.m., a resident went to the police station to report her concerns that her neighbor, Oates, was leaving her daughter at her home in the 500 block of Chestnut Street during the night. She described an occasion one morning the previous week in which she heard the child crying while saying, “Mommy, can I come out now?” She said she heard the child’s cries for roughly 45 minutes until Oates arrived home at 6:45 a.m.
Oates had double-parked outside and ran into the house, where she lived alone with the child. The woman said similar instances of the child being left alone had occurred for the past couple months.
On May 20, the woman contacted Sgt. Wayne Holben, who had taken over the investigation. She said Oates and her daughter arrived home about 5:30 p.m., then Oates left her home about an hour later without the child. Holben went to the house with Officer Chad Marks. They knocked on the front door and no one answered. Marks discovered the back door was unlocked. Holben returned to the police station and phoned Oates. The call went to voicemail, so he left a message for her to call back. A few minutes later, Oates called Holben and confirmed she lived at the Chestnut Street house and that her daughter was home alone.
Police contacted Berks County Children and Youth Services. Caseworkers arrived at Oates’ home to talk to her about what had occurred. One of the caseworkers later informed Holben that Oates stated she had left her daughter home alone several times.
Oates’ attorney, Jay M. Nigrini, said her daughter is in the care of her grandparents under supervision of the children and youth agency until the case is resolved.
Regarding the allegations, Nigrini said, “It is very much blown out of proportion as far as the level of alleged neglect of her parental duties, and we are in the process of providing information to the district attorney’s office that she was a good mother and the child was never placed in any danger.”