Couple charged in Eastview Mall child endangerment case plead not guilty
Victor, N.Y. (WHAM) - The mother and father who were charged with child endangerment for leaving their children unattended in Eastview Mall last month appeared in court Thursday morning.
Jean Seide, 39, and Bilaine Seint-Just, 36, pleaded not guilty to three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
"This family is not looking for any excuses," said their lawyer, Van White, after the court hearing. "[It's] just one day they probably made a decision, in hindsight, they would chose differently. And they made that different choice today."
In Victor Town Court Thursday, White told the court Seint-Just has left her job to care for her children, while Seide continues to work providing for the family.
In March, Ontario County Sheriff's deputies said the couple brought their 8-year-old, 6-year-old and one-month-old children to Eastview Mall while they worked their janitorial jobs.
The kids had been left them unsupervised for nearly 6 and half hours on a bench outside Lord & Taylor while they went to work in the mall.
At one point, the oldest child led her two siblings to an access hallway where other workers noticed them and contacted mall security who called deputies.
"It's very challenging, and difficult, to be a parent in today's economy,"White said. "I think they are dealing with one of those challenges."
The arrests sparked a broad discussion about the challenges and expenses of childcare.
An online fundraiser for the family raised nearly $19,000 and brought the case to the attention of Rochester native and NFL player Branden Albert, who said the couple's struggle reminds him of when his own mother was struggling to support his family.
White said the family wanted to thank the community for their support and say they are sorry for leaving their children and take full responsibility for their actions.
"Quite honestly, things can happen and sometimes we don't respond to them, in hindsight, like we should have, but we move on," White said. "I think the community understands that. Why? Because the community, many of them parents, have been down this road before."
Child Protective Services is involved. White hopes to find a solution that's best for the family.
Both parents are scheduled to return to court on May 18.