ONLY ON CVP: A Westwood babysitter who lost track of his 2-year old niece and nephew while they left the house and headed down a heavily trafficked road in diapers was sentenced to three years probation and parenting classes by a judge who called him “completely irresponsible.”
“It’s fortunate nothing happened to the children,” Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian told James Walker in Hackensack yesterday.
Walker, 35, was babysitting for the two toddlers at the home of his mother and sister when the two got out of bed, climbed over a large mound of dirt outside the house and toddled down Pascack Valley Road.
They made it to the nearest intersection, where a firefighter snatched them up and took them to Westwood police headquarters.
Walker, who pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment, said the youngsters bolted when he “went to the bathroom for 15 minutes.”
But Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Maria Rockfol gave the judge a different version.
“By the time he realized they were missing, they were already at the police station,” she said.
Rockfol also showed Jerejian photos of a car in the driveway with the trunk partially open — while noting recent deaths of children in car trunks — along with overflowing garbage cans outside the house and debris inside.
“He doesn’t just need parenting classes,” Rockfol said. “He needs common-sense classes.”
In addition to the classes, Jerejian required a drug and alcohol evaluation.
If Walker does well in the program, he said, he can petition to be released from it in two years.
“The children weren’t harmed,” the judge said, “but it could have been a lot worse.”
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter