Two parents have been charged with child abandonment by the Wasatch County Attorney’s Office, after refusing to allow their 16-year-old daughter to live with either of them.
The charge of child abandonment, a third-degree felony, was made against 46-year-old Reed James Behling, who lives in Heber; and the gir’s mother, 43-year-old Tawnya Chanelle Gardner, who resides in Salt Lake.
A report from a Heber Police Officer said that in late January, he spoke to Chanelle Gardner, who said her daughter was homeless. She had been looking for a place where the girl could say for the past month, but no one would take her in.
She said the girl could not stay with her because her roommate was on probation. Gardner was asked if she could change her living situation to take care of the girl, but said it was too late for that.
Her father, Behling, was then asked over the phone if he and her step-mother would take the girl in. He said the girl was too much of a problem and it did not work out.
Officers said the State Division of Family Services reported that Gardner did not have a history of being cooperative with them and had not used several assistance options offered to her.
The father had been working with DCFS but filed a petition in December to terminate his parental rights. When the petition was dismissed, Behling allegedly stopped cooperating with the state agency.
The daughter was taken to a short-term youth facility. She said she had not been living at home since last October. She had been living with several adult males in a trailer with no heat, water or food. When those adults were arrested, she became homeless.
The charges said that both adults “intentionally ceased to maintain physical custody of the child and intentionally failed to make reasonable arrangements for the safety, care and physical custody of the child.”