Nanny charged with child abuse and theft for leaving child at Encinitas store

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The caregiver of a boy found abandoned at an Encinitas Michael's craft store is facing charges of child abuse and petty theft.

Desirae Harris, 42, pleaded not guilty on Friday.

Employees found the boy wandering in the store on El Camino Real last month. Deputies searched the area and could not find his parents.

RELATED: Deputies arrested the woman suspected of leaving a boy behind in Encinitas

Surveillance video showed the boy entering the Michael's with a woman, who left moments later. Hours after the child's picture was released to the public, his parents were located. 

Harris’s attorney told 10News she had previously been the boy's caregiver but suffered a mental breakdown, unrelated to his care, and was hospitalized.

The family eventually welcomed her back, but her attorney says she might not have been ready.

“I think she was just kind of overwhelmed by the events of the day, stressed made a mistake and then I think that mistake was perhaps compounded by panic,” said attorney Jay Finnecy.

Deputy District Attorney Justine Santiago said she can’t discuss the facts of the case, but explained Harris was charged based on the evidence that they have.

She explained the boy’s family is deeply affected.

“[The boy] is with his family right now and everyone is working to deal the situation,” Santiago said.

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