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CEDAR CITY — A woman is seeking over $300,000 for emotional damages in a lawsuit against the Iron County School District and Emily Luciano, the woman who watched her children and prompted an Amber Alert after kidnapping her youngest child.
Emilee Winston claims in the lawsuit that the school district should not have released her 5-year-old child to a woman she doesn't know and who was not authorized to pick the child up, and claims such actions aided in a kidnapping.
According to the legal filing, Luciano, the family's long-term babysitter, asked another woman to drop off and pick up Winston's 5-year-old from South Elementary School and watch her 2-year-old.
Winston, the complaint says, had tested positive for COVID-19 and allowed her children to stay with Luciano overnight because she did not want to expose them to the disease.
Luciano told Winton that she was going to St. George for a dentist appointment and would take the children to a birthday party afterward. The filing says that instead, Luciano boarded a plane with Winston's youngest child, who was 5 months old, after leaving the other children with someone else.
Winston later got suspicious and asked for the address where she could pick her children up, but Luciano did not send one.
An Amber Alert was sent out on Nov. 6, 2020, for the youngest child after the other two children were found by police.
Luciano and the 5-month-old boy were found at the Denver International Airport. Charges against Luciano explained that she had been in contact with an adoption agency and was pretending to be a 17-year-old pregnant woman looking to place a child for adoption.
The Utah Attorney General's office has already filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the case against school district, arguing that government entities are immune from the claims in the lawsuit under Utah's code, said attorney general's spokesman Rich Piatt.
The lawsuit cites a website showing Iron County School District policies that require people picking up children before the end of the school day who are not the parents to have prior parental approval and be authorized as a contact for the child. It says that the 5-year-old was picked up by the woman "with the knowledge and consent of South Elementary Staff."
However, in this instance the child was picked up at the end of the school day and the district does not have policies for students picked up at the end of the school day.
Luciano pleaded guilty to child kidnapping, a second-degree felony, and was sentenced in November to 120 days in jail, 48 months of probation and a fine of $4,309, about $2,800 of which is restitution to be paid to Winston."
Luciano, who is currently incarcerated, sent a letter from the Iron County Jail saying that she has seen the lawsuit, and asked for more time to find an attorney and file the response.