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Judge Says Couple Who Left Children Must Be Evaluated

October 5, 1994

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A judge ordered psychiatric evaluations of a couple who left four children with a 14-year-old baby sitter for more than two weeks.

The ruling Tuesday by Chief Magistrate Donald Machen delays until Nov. 15 a decision whether James Fignar Jr., 37, and Bonnie Railing, 28, should face trial on charges of endangering the welfare of the children.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Ditka was stunned that Machen reduced bond so that Fignar could be freed from jail. His nine criminal convictions include three for drunken driving and one for vehicular homicide, the prosecutor said. Fignar was released from jail later Tuesday.

Railing was freed a few days after she and Fignar, the father of her two youngest children, were charged Sept. 26. They are now allowed supervised visits with the children, ages 2 to 10, who are in foster care. Railing said the couple only left because they were desperately seeking work in New Jersey to support their children, and that baby sitter Angela Morris had told them the children were fine. Railing claimed the sitter told her she was 17 years old. The eighth-grader denies that.

Angela recruited friends to help feed and care for the children in the couple’s run-down home when they didn’t return in three days as promised.

Machen said he wanted expert evaluation of the couple’s parenting skills, their mental states and whether Fignar has abused Railing.

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