HEBER CITY — Two parents accused of not allowing their 16-year-old daughter to live with either of them have been charged with child abandonment.
Reed James Behling, 46, of Heber City, and Tawnywa Chanelle Gardner, 43, of Salt Lake City, were each charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with the third-degree felony.
Police spoke to Gardner on the phone who said her daughter "was homeless because no one wanted to take her in," according to a Wasatch County Jail report on Jan. 29.
Gardner, who is the child's biological mother, said she had been trying to find a place for her daughter to live for a month. When police asked why the girl couldn't live with her, Gardner said her roommate was on probation and that the teen was not allowed to live in the house.
"When she was asked why she could not change her living situation to accommodate taking care of (her daughter), she stated it was too late for that," the report states.
Police contacted Behling, the girl's biological father, to see if she could stay with him.
"He stated (his daughter) had been too much of a problem and it did not work out. He was asked directly one more time by officers if (she) could stay with him, to which Reed said no," according to the report.
The girl was taken into state protective custody. She told state officials that she had not been living at home since October.13 comments on this story
Investigators believe both parents committed the crime of child abandonment because "they 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," according to the report.
Heber City police detective Tammy Thacker said if a child is kicked out of their home, they should go to a school counselor or another adult to seek help from protective services.
"There are resources available," she said.