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WEST JORDAN — An 8-year-old boy was recently abandoned at a local hospital holding a note from his mother saying she did not want him, according to police.
The note said: "This kid is rude and ungovernable! I do not want him in my house at all!"
The boy's mother, Kathy Sherrer, 36, of West Jordan, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with child abandonment, a third-degree felony, and child abuse, a class A misdemeanor.
However, Sherrer said Wednesday that she believed she was simply taking advantage of Utah's so-called Safe Haven law.
"I thought that it was OK that we could drop them off and it was a Safe Haven place," she said. "I wasn't sure about the Safe Haven laws or what it meant. I really did not know any other way to go about it."
On Feb. 21, the young boy entered the front door of Jordan Valley Medical Center, walked up to the front desk and handed them a note written by Sherrer, according to charging documents.
"The note went on to describe the failings of the child and gave his name," the charges state.
Sherrer didn't deny the allegations about the note Wednesday.
"In the note, I told them that he was out of control and that he needed more help than I could provide for him," she said.
Sherrer said she is the mother of four special needs children ages 4, 8, 12 and 13. She said she believed health authorities would understand "I was overwhelmed."
"(The idea) kind of behind that was to get him the help he needed from (the Division of Child and Family Services) and to go from there," she said, referring to the decision to leave her son at the hospital.
The boy also had a small bruise on his right arm allegedly caused by Sherrer hitting him with a spoon, according to the charges.
The boy was initially taken into the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services. West Jordan Police Sgt. Joe Monson did not know Wednesday if Sherrer had changed her mind and now wanted her son back, or if the boy remained in protective custody.
Sherrer said she was told it would be at least three months before it would be possible for her to be reunited with her son.
While there are crisis centers throughout Salt Lake County where parents can drop off a young child if they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said a parent can't just randomly pick a place and drive off.
"You don't get to arbitrarily drop children off at certain institutions," he said. "You reach out to that organization, that organization helps process your child, there's an understanding. Everybody understands what everyone's role is. Everyone knows what they're supposed to do. But you don't simply say, 'I've had enough and I'm going to drop off this child and no one knows who I am.'"
While Gill said he could only talk in general about abandoning children and not Sherrer's case specifically, he said adults don't get to simply "abandon" their parental responsibilities at will.
"The concern is, when we have children being treated that way, what damage does it do to that child, both in terms of the physical abuse and emotional abuse?" he said.
Infants who are 1 to 3 days old may be dropped off at a hospital without questions asked under Utah's Safe Haven Law, according to DCFS spokeswoman Ashley Sumner.
For children between that infant age and 11 years old, she said, there are crisis nurseries where parents can drop off their children for up to 24 hours. Information about those 24-hour facilities can be found at www.familysupportcenter.org/crisis-nursery.
An initial appearance for Sherrer is scheduled for Thursday.
Contributing: Andrew Adams