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Local News in Brief : Case Dropped Against Mother Who Took Son

January 12, 1988

A judge in Van Nuys dismissed child-stealing charges Monday against the mother of a 17-month old boy because she had received no official notice that her son had been placed in protective custody.

Diana Lee Allen, 29, of Sepulveda was charged with abducting her son, William Moriarty Jr., on Nov. 7 from Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, where social workers said he was recovering from physical and sexual abuse. The child's father, William Moriarty Sr., and his girlfriend, Cindy Lee Ayers, have been charged with child abuse and child endangerment in the case.

Social worker Marsha Harris testified at Allen's preliminary hearing that she told Allen in October that the boy was in protective custody and might be placed in foster care. She described Allen as "shaking and somewhat tearful."

Two weeks later, during evening visiting hours, Allen lifted her son from a playpen and took him from the hospital, authorities said.

"To go into the hospital, to take a child in a life-threatening situation, to run away with that child--she didn't have the right to do that at that point," Deputy Dist. Atty. Stuart Lytton argued. "That child was still under court order."

Defense attorney Walter Krauss countered by saying: "You can't take custody of the child away from a parent without due process. What a social worker told her is not the equivalent of a court order."

Municipal Judge Robert Wallerstein agreed.

Hospital spokeswoman Ann Kirkpatrick said Allen returned the child the next day after hearing news reports that his life might be in jeopardy without medication and medical supervision.

The boy left the hospital on Nov. 10 and is now at the Children's Institute International.

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