Parents accused of leaving kids alone in mall plead not guilty

Victoria E. Freile.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Rochester couple accused of leaving three children alone on a mall bench so they could work appeared in Victor Town Court Thursday morning.

Jean Seide, 39, and Bilaine Seint-Just, 36, last month were each charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. The couple on Thursday each pleaded not guilty to the charges, said their lawyer Van Henri White.

The pair on March 25 brought their children to Victor’s Eastview Mall, where both worked as custodians, and left their 8-year-old, 6-year-old and 1-month-old alone so they could work. Ontario County sheriff’s deputies allege that the kids were alone in the mall for more than six hours before someone alerted mall security and sheriff’s deputies who then intervened.

The couple that day were in a pinch and brought their kids to the mall. Since then, Seint-Just quit her job and cares for her children full time, White said. Seide continues to work at the mall.

“They are good, responsible, caring parents,” White said adding that Seide or Seint-Just do not have a criminal history.

“She returned to work out of economic necessity,” he said. “She was provided an opportunity to work and didn’t want to reject that opportunity. We as parents and children of parents understand the many challenges of raising children. It’s not a science and often not done perfectly.”.

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And sometimes we don’t make the best decisions, he said.

The couple, he said, is also very thankful for donations of more than $18,600 through an online fundraiser. Those funds are to be used for child care, once Seint-Just returns to work, he said.

The pair is due back in court on May 18.

Follow Victoria E. Freile. on Twitter: @vfreile

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