Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Children Left Alone While Mother Goes To Nightclub

Five children who were left home alone while their mother went clubbing will remain in custody of the Department of Children and Families, a judge ruled Monday.

Formeka Sanders, 29, was arrested after her 4-year-old was found wandering in the Oak Glenn Apartments parking lot about 1:45 a.m. Monday. She is facing child neglect charges.

DCF initially turned the children over to Sanders' mother, a police report said. But at a hearing

Monday, a judge and DCF officials said Sanders' mother has a history of crack-cocaine use.

Sanders has six children, but apparently only five of them were home at the time.

DCF also had prior involvement with the family with allegations involving failure to protect, sexual abuse and inadequate food.

Judge Anthony Johnson indicated Sanders' mother wouldn't be a possible option for the kids to live with because of the previous DCF involvement and drug use.

Sanders' children — ages 12, 10, 9, 4 and 2 — were left home alone at their apartment on Mercy Drive while she went to Club Firestone in downtown Orlando, police said.

Sanders appeared at the hearing in a navy blue jail jumpsuit and said little. She remains in the custody of the Orange County Jail on a $1,000 bond.

David Rushing, the father of the 4-year-old, also attended the hearing and requested custody of the boy. The judge ordered a review be conducted to determine if it will be a suitable home for the child.

A similar study is being conducted at Sanders' great-aunt's home to see where they will be placed.

Police were alerted around 1:40 a.m. by a security guard who was patrolling the parking lot near Sanders unit and found the 4-year-old boy wandering around outside.

The child told the guard he was by himself and then led the guard back to his apartment, police said.

When officers arrived, they found four children sleeping in a bedroom. The officer woke all the children, who all seemed to be fine, according to the report.

The officer tried calling Sanders cell phone several times, but when she answered all he could hear was loud music in the background.

Sanders returned home around 3:20 a.m. Monday with her boyfriend and was detained.

During an interview with police, Sanders said she left her home around 12:30 a.m. and placed her oldest son in charge. She told police she feels the child is "old and responsible enough" to take care of the four children.

Jail records show Sanders has been arrested several times in the past on charges of aggravated battery with a weapon and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

After the hearing, Rushing said he wants custody of his son and he thinks Sanders is a "fit" mother.

"I would never expect for anything like this to happen," he said.

Sunday's incident isn't the first time DCF and law-enforcement have been involved with Sanders' children.

Orlando police and DCF responded to the apartment complex July 6 when one of her children nearly drowned in a pool.

Sanders was not home at the time. A father of one of the children was supposed to be supervising the kids.

"Clearly we have a documented pattern of inadequate supervision and, given the potential for such serious harm, especially in the July incident, we felt we had no choice but to remove the children and place them into protective custody," DCF spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner said Monday.


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