The Coast News Group

Nanny pleads guilty to abandoning 2-year-old boy in craft store

REGION — A Carlsbad nanny pleaded guilty March 20 to a child endangerment charge for abandoning a 2-year-old boy in her care at an Encinitas craft store, prompting an intensive 6 1/2-hour search for his parents.

Desirae Harris faces probation and the possibility of jail time, said Deputy District Attorney Justine Santiago.

Defense attorney Jay Finnecy — who previously said Harris had a history of mental illness — said his client was “deeply remorseful” and never intended for the child — named Connor — to be harmed in any way.

“She is thankful that Connor suffered no physical harm and was well cared for by both the employees of Michael’s and the sheriff’s deputies who responded,” Finnecy said in a statement. “Ms. Harris was eager to accept responsibility for her conduct and to save Connor’s family from any further anxiety over the case.”

Harris, 42, left the child at the Michael’s store in the 300 block of North El Camino Real around midday on Nov. 16. Employees found the toddler wandering by himself inside the business, sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Tomaiko said.

The workers made announcements over a public-address system in the store and searched surrounding parking lots and shops, to no avail. They then made a 911 call, and deputies took over the effort, canvassing the area and making loudspeaker announcements from a patrol helicopter.

The boy was turned over to the temporary care of child-welfare services personnel at the Polinsky Children’s Center until investigators tracked down his parents, who were reunited with their son about 6:30 p.m., the sergeant said.

Finnecy said Harris, who has no prior record, had worked for the child’s family for several months prior to the incident.

She is scheduled to be sentenced May 8.

— City News Service