WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- An elementary school teacher in Utah was charged with kidnapping for allegedly taking a 5-year-old girl off school grounds for almost 40 minutes.
- On Thursday, Amy Martz claimed that it was a huge misunderstanding as she was simply trying to help the child, who is autistic and non-verbal, get home.
- Martz said that she was only providing safety to what she felt was “a vulnerable child because she was distraught” and it “was not safe traveling alone.”
A sixth-grade teacher from Utah was charged with kidnapping after she allegedly help a five-year-old girl get home safely after noticing the child was “sobbing uncontrollably” before wandering off school grounds.
Fox Hollow Elementary School teacher Amy Martz, 49, could face 15 years to life in prison if found guilty.
“I did not kidnap a child,” Martz told Deseret News. “I followed a clearly distraught child as she left the school grounds. I felt she was not safe traveling alone.”
On Sept. 4, the child’s mother went to the school to report that her daughter, who is autistic and non-verbal, had never made it home. According to charging documents, Martz called shortly after, to say the child was with her.
Martz was charged Monday with child kidnapping for the unauthorized walk.
Police said surveillance footage showed the teacher and the child walking hand in hand away from school.
“I had no intent to interfere with the child’s trip home. I was providing safety to what I felt was a vulnerable child because she was distraught,” Martz said.
She said she saw the girl “sobbing uncontrollably” and leaving school premises. So she followed the girl and took her by the hand to help her find her way home. She realized later that the child had trouble communicating.
“At each fork in the road I stopped and said, ‘Which way home?’ She would point confidently and said, ‘This way home,’ ” the teacher said.
Until she realized the girl did not know which way was home.
Martz said she left her purse and cellphone in her classroom since she had no idea she’d be gone for over an hour. She even left her own child behind, waiting for her.
She finally went to a house and asked to borrow a phone to contact the school.
Martz said she tried to explain what happened to the girl’s parents, who only speak Spanish, but believes a language barrier contributed to the misunderstanding.
The teacher only learned she’d been charged when a local news outlet contacted her. There was a $25,000 warrant out for her arrest so she turned herself in and was booked into Salt Lake County Jail.
A certified attorney specializing in education law, Martz said her whole life “has been about serving and helping children.”
“I take responsibility and regret that the child’s parents were frightened. I was only keeping her safe,” she said. “It’s a sad commentary on our society when educators who responsibly help children are disciplined and charged with crimes.”
Source: New York Post