A Chicagoland mom says she's spent weeks, and hundreds of dollars, defending herself from claims of child abuse after she allowed her 8-year-old daughter to walk their dog, Marshmallow, around the block by herself.
Corey Widen, a resident of the tony "north shore" Chicago suburb of Wilmette, says she let her daughter Dorothy take their dog on a short walk around the block — a jaunt that Widen says took "less than five minutes" — so that she could practice caring for her pet. But almost as soon as Dorothy returned home from her jaunt, the police were ringing her doorbell.
Widen told Chicago's CBS affiliate that she was confused, and "for a split second I thought maybe it was fundraising." She soon found out that a neighbor had seen Dorothy walking Marshmallow alone and had called the cops. The neighbor reportedly told police that Dorothy was "less than five years old" and had been "unattended" for more than 90 minutes.
The police left without incident and Widen wasn't charged, but that, apparently, wasn't enough for Widen's nosy neighbor, who then called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and reported Widen for neglecting her child.
“Apparently whoever call the police didn’t think the police were a good enough judge of what was OK and not OK. Then they called DCFS. The police did not call DCFS,” Widen told CBS.
Widen was forced to hire a lawyer. It took "weeks" and a full investigation to clear her name.
DCFS released a statement to People Magazine stating that the case was closed, but that they do follow up on calls made to their hotline, even if they seem strange or silly, to protect child welfare.
“The hotline narrative said the caller reported that the child was 5 years old or less. The caller reported calling police before about the girl playing in a parking lot,” DCFS's statement read. “We went out and investigated, and the investigation has already been unfounded. We don’t control the calls that come into our hotline. Something made someone think there was a concern, and we don’t know without checking it out.”
The stranger thing is, of course, the nosy neighbor. According to the Uniform Crime Report, Wilmette, Illinois, is one of the safest cities in America.
For her part, Widen told reporters that she'll continue to allow Dorothy to walk Marshmallow around the block.
“Everyone needs to allow the parent to do what is best for their family,” she said. “No one will dictate my parenting choices.”