Nicole Sciortino said she didn’t know it was illegal.
The 30-year-old mother of two faces four counts of endangering the welfare of children after police say she left her two kids — ages 10 and 11 — alone at their home in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, while she vacationed in Florida. She taught her 11-year-old son how to put water in the furnace to generate heat, according to The Times-Tribune, and headed off for her trip down south.
The boy and his 10-year-old sister told police that their mother would call them in the morning to wake them up for school, the Times Tribune reported. Then they would pick out their own clothes before heading to the bus stop, police allege, and would only have breakfast if they could get it at school.
Local officers arrived at Sciortino’s house on March 7 after receiving a call about children who were left there unsupervised, according to court documents obtained by WNEP. Cops say they found the two children in a house that was just 58 degrees — with the 11-year-old wearing a winter coat inside — and covered in trash, pizza boxes, food, clothes and pills.
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The girl used an iPad to FaceTime her mother, who first told officers that she was nearby. She later confessed to being in Florida, according to WNEP, and said that the children’s father, who lived at another address, was watching them. Police allege that 30-year-old Vincent Licciardello, their father, dropped the kids off at their mother’s house on March 5 and returned every once in a while over the next few days to give them food before leaving again.
Officers then called Licciardello. According to the Times-Tribune, he hung up on police after refusing to get the children. He later argued that Sciortino didn’t want the kids to sleep at his place, police say, and his car broke down so he couldn’t check on the kids more often.
During a March 12 interview at Dunmore police headquarters, Sciortino allegedly told officers that she didn’t think it was illegal or “really that bad” to leave her two preteens home alone, WNEP reported. On Monday, police charged her and Licciardello with four counts of endangering the welfare of children.
They are both out of jail on $10,000 unsecured bail.
Other parents have been accused of doing the same thing.
In Tennessee, a 22-year-old mother is accused of leaving her 2-year-old daughter alone in a room while she took a trip. Cassie Scales was caught, police say, after she called a neighbor during a trip, asking whether they would check in on her 2-year-old daughter who was home alone.
That neighbor called police, who allege Scales locked the child alone in a bedroom while the Tennessee mother took her 3-month-old on a trip along with a friend on Jan. 12.
Police say Erin Lee Macke, a 30-year-old mother from Iowa, took it one step further and left her children alone for an international vacation. Macke left the United States on Sept. 20, planning to return nearly two weeks later on Oct. 1, and left her children — one 6-year-old, one 7-year-old and two 12-year-olds — alone at their house with no one to watch over them.
She told authorities that none of her babysitters could watch the kids, so she just decided to leave her two preteens in charge, police say.