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Mother of Danish Baby Sues NY

May 13, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Danish woman who ended up in jail briefly for leaving her baby girl unattended in a stroller outside a restaurant while she dined inside has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the city.

Anette Sorensen’s lawsuit accuses the city and unidentified police officers of falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting her, causing her ``profound humiliation, degradation and embarrassment.″

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in U.S. District Court, also alleges the city deprived Ms. Sorensen of custody of her daughter, Liv, for four days. The girl was 14 months old at the time.

Ms. Sorensen, a 30-year-old Danish actress who was visiting from Copenhagen, was arrested May 10, 1997 after police spotted the baby in a stroller parked on a sidewalk outside a restaurant where she was dining with the baby’s father, Exavier Wardlaw.

Police said they went to the restaurant after getting complaints from other diners who were upset that the child appeared to be alone.

The couple spent two nights in jail, and baby Liv was in foster care for four days before being reunited with her mother.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Sorensen said the baby was asleep in her stroller in a fenced-in area in front of the restaurant’s window and in clear view of her mother. Police said the couple were seated two tables back from the window.

Ms. Sorensen also contends her daughter cried and screamed at the stationhouse and that no one told her who had taken the girl, or where she was.

Once freed from jail, Ms. Sorensen said she and her child were forced to remain in the United States for 10 days. Charges of disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment later were dismissed.

Nicholas Scoppetta, commissioner of the city Administration for Children’s Services, said in a statement that the lawsuit was ``galling.″

``Whatever the practice may be in other parts of the world, leaving an infant alone on the streets of New York City and failing to respond to requests from other concerned citizens to look after the infant is impermissible,″ he said.

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