The parents of a 2-year-old, who were described as employees of the Killington Resort, denied charges filed after police said they left a child in their car while they went skiing at Killington on Feb. 8.

Katelynn Marie Brent, 21 of Hampton, New York, pleaded not guilty in Rutland criminal court Monday to two misdemeanor counts related to driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of child cruelty.

Cory Ahern, 29, also of Hampton, pleaded not guilty in the same court to a misdemeanor charge of child cruelty.

Both were released without bail but with a condition that they cooperate with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

The charges are based on affidavits written by Officer Michael Hoffman, of the Killington Police Department, who said he had heard around 3:20 p.m. Feb. 8 from a dispatcher about a caller reporting a possible child left in a car unattended at a parking lot at the Killington resort.

Hoffman said he reached the woman who made the call. She said she knows Brent but asked to remain anonymous saying she feared retaliation.

The woman said Brent had asked her to watch the child, but she said “no.” She said she got a text from Brent later in the day saying she and Ahern couldn’t find someone to watch the child, but they decided to go skiing anyway and leave the child unattended.

The woman said she feared for the safety of the child because she said Brent abuses drugs and alcohol.

Hoffman said other police agencies, including Vermont State Police and Washington County Sheriff’s Department in New York, assisted in trying to find Brent and Ahern but weren’t successful.

Hoffman said with the help of the woman who made the initial report, he was able to get Brent’s number. He said he called her and asked her to wait where she was so he could reach her at the Bear Lodge parking area and speak with her.

However, Hoffman wrote in the affidavit, while he was on his way, he saw Brent driving toward him. He said he turned around and stopped her car.

According to the affidavit, Brent was driving and Ahern was a passenger. Hoffman said the child appeared to be asleep in the car.

Hoffman said when he questioned Brent, she denied leaving the child alone in the car. He said she initially told him the child had been left with someone else and gave the name of the woman who had initially called police. She then said she had gone skiing, but Ahern stayed in the car with the child.

Hoffman said he asked her again about leaving the child alone in the car and Brent denied she would do that, saying, “I know a lot of people take cars, even if they’re unattended, they’ll still hotwire cars and take the baby, and I know that happens a lot in Rutland so there’s no way.”

After asking Brent about alcohol she had before the stop, Hoffman learned her license was suspended in Vermont. He said she told him she knew her license had been suspended over unpaid tickets but said she was driving because Ahern “can’t drive an automatic.”

A breath sample provided by Brent indicated her blood alcohol content was 0.119%. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is 0.08%.

As his investigation continued, Hoffman said he obtained a screenshot of a text message that appeared to be from Brent in which she wrote, “No one at day care or anywhere has been able to take (the child), because of a COVID outbreak among the staff, and it’s been hard so we had to do this to ski, and it kills me so (expletive deleted) bad.”

He said Killington staff told him that their records showed the employee passes issued to Brent and Ahern were used 10 times at the same time.

Hoffman said on Feb. 9, he contacted the Vermont Department for Children and Families and their New York counterparts because Brent and Ahern live in New York, to tell them of the events alleged in the affidavit.

According to Hoffman, Brent and Ahern came to the Killington police station on Feb. 10 for an interview. He said Brent continued to maintain that she and Ahern never left the child alone and said their passes had been scanned at the same time because she had Ahern’s pass with her.

But Hoffman said Brent eventually told police they had left the child in the car and monitored her by using a cellphone they left in the car.

“She stated they returned to the car often to make sure the child was warm, had a drink and was still asleep. She stated this process was exhausting. She added they never left the child alone for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time and asked me, ‘Does it seem like a bad thing to do?’” Hoffman wrote in the affidavit.

Hoffman said Brent told him she felt guilty and said she would never do anything similar again. She said she believed the child was safe and asked Hoffman not to blame Ahern because she said it was “ultimately her choice to leave the child in the car.”

In the affidavit written in Ahern’s case, Hoffman said that Ahern, during a separate interview, told him, “We weren’t in our right heads” and “I should have been smarter.”

“(Ahern) also spoke of the vehicle’s locking system and ultimately admitted their choice to leave the child alone in the car was irresponsible,” Hoffman wrote in the affidavit.

If convicted, Brent could be sentenced to up to two years in jail for the charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol, and Brent and Ahern could face two years in jail for the child cruelty charge if found guilty.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com

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WhatsupRutvegas

Multiple crimes should be indicted here. Let’s see how good your prosecutors are in Rutland protecting the “vulnerable”. Or will they let these people get off Scott free!?

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