(WASHINGTON) — A couple has been charged with cruelty for allegedly leaving their toddlers in a car in the cold this past weekend while wine tasting at an upscale restaurant in Washington, D.C., authorities said.
Christopher Lucas, 41, and Jennie Chang, 46, were arrested on Saturday after police responded to a concerned caller who said that two children were unattended in a car at about 3:44 p.m., D.C. police officer Araz Alali told ABC News Tuesday.
The car was locked, and the engine wasn’t running, according to Alali. The temperature at the time was around 33 degrees, though an hour before it was below freezing.
“The children were left unattended for about an hour when the parents came out of Ris restaurant, where they were attending a wine tasting,” Alali said. “The children were taken care of by the cops and taken to Family and Child Services.”
Lucas and Chang were arrested on the scene on charges of second-degree cruelty to children, Alali said.
Lucas and Chang were arraigned Monday and pleaded not guilty, and were ordered by the judge to stay away from the children, according to court documents.
D.C. Family and Child Services did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the current status of the children. Police described the children as toddlers but did not disclose their ages.
The next hearing is scheduled on Feb. 18. If found guilty, the couple could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in jail.
Lucas and Chang were seen on video running from reporters into a taxi after leaving the court building.
ABC News called the couple several times for comment, but no one picked up at their home in D.C. And court documents did not disclose whether the couple had an attorney.
“The D.C. police department takes the protection of our children as a serious responsibility,” Alali told ABC News. “We will hold anyone who puts children in jeopardy responsible.
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