Mom abandoned her, 7th-grader tells court

March 18, 1994|By Knight-Ridder News Service

PHILADELPHIA -- A somber seventh-grader told a judge yesterday of being abandoned for three months at her Levittown, Pa., home, knowing her words could land her mother in jail.

Robyn Hall came to court with misgivings, "as probably any 12-year-old would have when testifying against her mother," said Bucks County prosecutor Maggie Snow. "I told her it would make her mother take responsibility for her actions."

On the strength of Robyn's testimony, Phyllis A. Hall was ordered held for trial, charged with endangering the welfare of a child. District Justice Robert Wagner scheduled an April 22 arraignment for Ms. Hall, 45, who was arrested last month.

By now, Robyn's story has been roundly told. Her recently married mother moved to Philadelphia in November, prosecutors say, leaving Robyn to fend for herself. The girl cooked for herself, laundered her own clothes and regularly made it to classes for nearly three months, her plight undetected by neighbors or school officials.

Robyn's independence ended Feb. 10, when Bristol Township police discovered her asleep in a bedroom warmed only by a space heater. She has since been placed in foster care at an undisclosed site.

"She has told me, 'I just want a normal life,' " Ms. Snow said.

Robyn was the only witness at yesterday's preliminary hearing. Her hazel eyes darted nervously around the courtroom, her gaze passing quickly across her well-coiffed mother, seated in an olive dress at the defense table.

The girl testified that her mother left in November, spending only one night at the house afterward "because the heater [repair] guy was coming that night."

Robyn has said she refused to move to Philadelphia because she disliked her mother's new husband, a career criminal and police informer who is now being sought as a fugitive. She said her mother left anyway, stopping by the house twice a week or so and calling her every morning and evening.

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