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'Home Alone' Mom Gets 1 Year in O.C. Jail

March 13, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A Placentia mother who left her young children home alone while she traveled to England, China and North Carolina pleaded guilty Thursday to eight felony counts of child abuse and child neglect.

Superior Court Judge Roger Robbins sentenced Janet Hseuh Chen, 31, to one year in Orange County Jail and five years of probation, and ordered her to attend counseling upon her release.

The prosecutor had urged the judge to impose the 15-year maximum prison sentence because of the egregious neglect. During her trip to North Carolina in December, Chen left her children at home alone, with a three-week supply of food, while she wooed a man she met on the Internet.

Robbins sentenced Chen to the minimum because she had no criminal history and the charges were not violent.

Chen, with her hair shaved in the back and braided in a ponytail, spoke softly when making her plea. Her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Linda Hewitt, said the sentence was fair and stressed that Chen is remorseful.

"She's accepting responsibility for what happened," Hewitt said.

Chen left her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter alone and unsupervised during four trips. With credit for time served and good behavior, Chen is expected to be freed in six months.

Hewitt said Chen will fight to keep her children, who have been placed in a foster home.

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