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Mother Attending Christmas Dinner Locks Child Out of House for Hours

A single mother of four in North Carolina is facing charges after locking the door to her house with while she attended a Christmas gathering while her 10-year-old son was unable to get into the home. The boy had allegedly spent near five hours outside in the time she was away.

43-year-old Susan Dowless was taking her family to a Christmas party to celebrate the holiday when one of her children who was playing at a friend’s house did not come home at the time she requested. After she waited an hour she concluded that the boy was staying with his friend and she left for the dinner with her three other children.

When the child came home he found that the door was locked and his family was not there. A neighbor notified the authorities when they spotted the boy roaming around the area by himself while he waited for them to return.

Cary police reported that Dowless had left her child outside between the hours of 1pm and 5:45pm, and without warm enough clothing for the temperature which was near 40 degrees. The authorities believe she locked the boy outside intentionally, and that she did not properly account for his need for supervision and food.

The Wake County Magistrate’s Office issued an arrest warrant and Dowless was taken into custody late Wednesday morning and charged with one count of misdemeanor child abuse. It was also ordered she have no contact with the boy. She was released from custody later that afternoon after posting the ordered $5000 bail.

Her son was removed from her care and placed with a relative. He was reported as healthy and had suffered no harm from the situation.

21-year-old Gilmore Smith, Dowless’ oldest son, spoke to local news in support of his mother and said that the situation was a misunderstanding. Smith said that his brother regularly visits his friend’s house to play until dark, and it was assumed that he would follow that pattern when Dowless decided the family would be leaving for the party without him.

If you or someone you love is suspected of child abuse, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.