Kingsport mom charged with child abuse neglect - WFLA News Channel 8

Kingsport mom of handicapped son faces child abuse, neglect charges

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(Source: Kingsport Police Department) (Source: Kingsport Police Department)

A Kingsport mother is now charged with child abuse and neglect, after her mentally challenged son escaped from his bedroom and was found banging on the windows and door of a neighbor's home.

According to the Kingsport Police Department, the child of Sherry M. Harris was found Sunday around 11:00 a.m., wearing soiled underwear, and was unable to speak or tell the officer where he lived. The responding officer found the front door of a home opened a few doors down on Myrtle Street. According to the affidavit, inside the home, a couch had acted as a baby gate to the boy's room, positioned so he could still watch cartoons on the television in the living room.

Police found used diapers, cigarette butts, and food in the floors.

"It's important that we're notified of situations like it. It could have been the neighbor maybe knew where the child belonged, and just took the child home, but then we could possibly have a track record of something like this happening and not be aware of it," Patton said.

When asked why Harris had slept in, she told the officer she had drank a few shots of liquor, two beers, took half a percocet. Harris continued on to say she just wanted to "stay up late and listen to some music," and that she had just over slept and made a mistake.

Harris's self-described "mistake," is one Kingsport Police say happens all too often.

"It's not unheard of at all for Kingsport Police to get calls about a, you know, a child wandering in the roadway. And when we get there, we find the child, the child's too young to communicate, in this case the child wasn't mentally able to communicate, and then we have to track the child down to the parent and we find the parent asleep, or passed out, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And again, it happens much more often than you would think," Tom Patton, Public Information Officer for Kingsport Police Department said.

News Channel 11 has confirmed the child is currently under the care of the Department of Child Services, which is working to find a stable environment for the child.

Harris's court date is scheduled for Thursday.

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