(MERCED, Calif.) — A woman accused of trespassing at the maternity ward of a California hospital denied doing anything wrong, despite police saying they caught her wearing scrubs and carrying a doll created to look like a real infant.
Tonya Whitney was arrested Friday, according to ABC News affiliate KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif., and given a citation for trespassing.
“I, in no way, tried impersonating a nurse,” Whitney said. “I, in no way, ever thought or tried to steal a baby.”
Whitney said she arrived at the hospital with the lifelike dolls because she wanted to market them to the hospital for use during training or as a therapeutic tool. The dolls, called “reborns,” mimic the appearance of newborns.
Whitney told KFSN she only went to the maternity ward because an emergency room nurse told her she could show the dolls to the maternity staff. However, once Whitney and her husband arrived on the maternity ward, the staff became concerned about why the pair was there.
A security guard stopped them from entering and took their picture before they left. Police and hospital administrators told ABC News they were concerned because Whitney was wearing hospital scrubs and attempted to get into the maternity ward on two different days.
Whitney said that she wore the scrubs because they fit her.
“Well, I’ve gained weight in the last couple months and that’s all I had that fit,” she told KFSN.
Mercy Medical Center hospital spokesman Robert McLaughlin told ABC News the couple treated the dolls like real infants.
“They acted like they were real,” he said. “They hold them and hug them and change their diapers. It’s very odd.”
McLaughlin also said Whitney had an outdated business card of the directors and said she had an appointment with an educator, which wasn’t true.
Whitney told KFSN she realizes her lifelike dolls can be disturbing for some people, but said when hospital staff was concerned, she and her husband simply left.
“My dolls can be kind of freaky,” Whitney said. “So we just apologized and left.”
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