By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) – Arizona prosecutors will drop child abuse charges against a woman who generated nationwide attention after leaving her two young sons in a hot car while she went on a job interview, authorities said on Friday.
County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the charges against Shanesha Taylor will be dismissed once she successfully completes parenting and substance abuse treatment programs and sets up child care and education trust funds for her children, according to the agreement.
“We believe this agreement represents a just resolution that appropriately holds the defendant accountable for her actions while also recognizing the best interests of her family,” Montgomery said.
Taylor was charged with two counts of felony child abuse stemming from the March 20 incident involving her 6-month-old and 2-year-old children left alone in a parked vehicle.
Police discovered the two children in the backseat of the car, still buckled in their seat belts with temperatures registering more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). Officers said the boys were sweating profusely and in obvious distress when they arrived on the scene.
Taylor’s case, punctuated by the image of her tearful mug shot which was broadcast widely, drew national attention. A woman in New Jersey started an online campaign to help Taylor pay her bills.
The plight of the 35-year-old Phoenix woman generated an outpouring of donations from across the country. Nearly $115,000 was raised on the Internet.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, Taylor will establish trust funds for the education of her children as well as child care.
Her attorney, Benjamin Taylor, said his client, who is not related to him, will use the money raised for her assistance to set up the trust funds. The money was also used to help the family secure housing.
Shanesha Taylor is still looking for a job, Benjamin Taylor said.
Montgomery said in a statement that the deal will ensure that the money will have “a meaningful and positive impact.”
The deal was approved by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Friday, a court spokesman said.