The mother of a 10-year-old girl and her boyfriend must take parental guidance classes after being accused of allowing the girl to ride in a cage in the back of a pickup truck with a small dog on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Abby Carlson, 29, and her boyfriend, Thomas Fissinger, 33, both of Millvale, are charged with child endangerment. A preliminary hearing on the charge was postponed six weeks today to allow time for the classes.
Judge Robert Dzvonick recommended parental guidance classes after hearing from the prosecuting attorney and defending counsel, deeming this an example of "two adults listening to a 10-year old kid."
The judge agreed with the defense when he said this did not seem an example of people intending to commit a crime, which is necessary to try someone for child endangerment.
But he warned of future incidents that could result should Mr. Fissinger and Ms. Carlson not learn a lesson.
"God forbid your daughter asks for a Corvette and you go out and rob a bank," the judge said.
The police officer who stopped Mr. Fissinger and Ms. Carlson said there were no allegations of speeding or reckless driving when he got the dispatch.
He described the cage as a wire-frame crate restrained to the pickup truck with a ratchet strap. The girl was not restrained in the crate, the officer said.
In six weeks Mr. Fissinger and Ms. Carlson will appear again when the judge will hear a report on their progress in parental guidance class, though the girl's grandmother, who was present at the hearing, maintains full custody of her granddaughter.
"We're not out of the woods yet," defense attorney Komron Jon Maknoon said after the hearing. "The judge made it very clear that if anything goes wrong in the meantime it's not going to be positive."
Both Mr. Fissinger and Ms. Carlson declined to comment after the hearing.
Jacob Axelrad: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1634. On Twitter: @jakeaxelrad.