RONKONKOMA, NY — A 14-year-old baby sitter, her boyfriend and mother have been arrested for leaving a baby at a Long Island, New York casino, police said Wednesday.
Dejuana Stewart, pictured, was arrested, along with her juvenile daughter and daughter's boyfriend after allegedly leaving a baby alone at a Long Island casino on Aug. 28, 2017. (Suffolk County Government)
Police arrested the trio Tuesday, a day after officials said the child's 21-year-old mother hired the sitter – who claimed to be 18 years old but was actually 14 – through sittercity.com.
"Be sure when you go on these websites, you need to vet the baby sitters yourself," Suffolk County Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said.
When the mother failed to pick up her 9-month-old child Monday, the 14-year-old baby sitter called police around 6:40 p.m. that evening.
The baby sitter told the responding officers that the issue had been resolved and an arrangement to meet the mother had been made.
The arrangement allegedly involved the mother meeting the caregivers, which included the 14-year-old baby sitter; her mother, Dejuana Stewart, 44; and her 16-year-old boyfriend, at a casino in Islandia.
Another dispute regarding the pickup ensued, and the caregivers decided to leave 9-month-old Aiden at the casino when the mother once again failed to arrive, police said.
The boyfriend, a Brooklyn resident, allegedly left the baby on a bench outside the casino and began walking toward the trio's vehicle before returning to the bench, picking up the child, and taking the baby to a security member inside the casino, saying he just found the infant.
The caregivers then left the casino, police said.
Investigators later watched surveillance footage at the casino and recognized the boyfriend from the initial call, according to police.
Officers then returned to the same Ronkonkoma home they went to after the baby sitter's initial call and arrested all three.
Stewart and the two minors face charges of endangering the welfare of a child, police said. The child's mother is not being charged and the baby has been returned to her.
Sittercity sent the following statement to WPIX regarding the incident:
Safety for sitters and families is the top priority for Sittercity. In addition to providing a full suite of tools and resources for families through our Trust & Safety Center, we verify the identity of sitters through Experian. As a policy, we do not allow sitters under the age of 18 to register. We understand that the sitter in this case used a false birthdate when registering because she was under 18 years old. We immediately removed her from the site as soon as we learned about this matter, and we are grateful to know that the baby is safe at home.