Nanny sentenced to year in jail for abandoning toddler in store

A Carlsbad nanny who abandoned a 2-year-old boy in her care at an Encinitas craft store, prompting an intensive 6 1/2-hour search for his parents, was sentenced May 8 to a year in jail.

Desirae Harris, who pleaded guilty in March to felony child endangerment, will also be on probation for six years.

Defense attorney Jay Finnecy said his 42-year-old client has a history of mental illness. She is “deeply remorseful” and never intended for the child to be harmed in any way, he said, adding that Harris pleaded guilty to save the tot's family from any further anxiety.

Authorities said Harris left the child at the Michael's store on North El Camino Real south of Garden View Road around midday on Nov. 16, 2017.

Employees found the toddler wandering by himself inside the business, sheriff's Sgt. Joe Tomaiko said.

The workers made announcements over the public-address system in the store and searched surrounding parking lots and shops, to no avail. They then made a 911 call, and deputies took over the effort, canvassing the area and making loudspeaker announcements from a patrol helicopter.

The boy was turned over to the temporary care of child-welfare services personnel at the Polinsky Children's Center until investigators tracked down his parents, who were reunited with their son about 6:30 p.m.

Finnecy said Harris, who had no prior record, had worked for the child's family for several months prior to the incident.

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