A 22-year-old Iowa woman who police allege gave birth in a hospital bathroom and then tried to flush the baby down the toilet because she thought it was stillborn, is now facing charges of child endangerment.
A criminal complaint cited by WHOtv, says the woman, Ashley Hautzenrader, entered a restroom at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics complex at about 9:24 p.m. Sunday and delivered the baby in the toilet.
Hautzenrader told police she was unaware that she was pregnant when she entered the restroom and thought the baby was dead when it came out because it didn't cry. She tried flushing the baby down the toilet, before placing the newborn in a pillowcase and dumping the boy in a trash can.
"The defendant entered a bathroom by herself and delivered a baby in the toilet. The defendant stated that she did not know she was pregnant prior to entering the bathroom. The defendant thought the baby was dead, due to it not crying and attempted to flush the baby down the toilet," wrote Officer Eli Hotchkin.
"The defendant then placed the baby in a pillow case and put the baby in the trash can. The defendant cleaned the bathroom and left the scene. The baby was later found by UIHC employees, where the baby was found alive. The defendant was later confronted by officers, where she admitted to placing the child in the trash after thinking it died," he added.
UIHC spokesman Tom Moore said Tuesday morning in an email to the Press-Citizen that the baby was found "shortly after delivery."
Moore told the local newspaper that he could not disclose whether Hautzenrader or the baby were patients at the hospital or what the child's condition was due to privacy laws. It is also not known what led Hautzenrader to go to the hospital, how far along she was in her pregnancy or the baby's sex.
The child endangerment charge is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison.
Hautzenrader was arrested Monday afternoon and released from the Johnson County Jail at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, jail administrator Bill Deatsch told the Press-Citizen.
Deatsch explained that the unexpectant mother is now under pretrial supervision with the Iowa Department of Corrections which is quite similar to probation.
"She has to check in with them and not have any other law infractions. They give (her) a list of what to do and what not to do," Deatsch said.
He further noted that Hautzenrader didn't need medical attention after arriving at the jail.
"We wouldn't have taken her in if she had severe medical issues (and) needed attention," Deatsch said.
According to the Press-Citizen, court records show that Hautzenrader was the petitioner in a paternity testing and child support case in Scott County in May 2015.
It further noted that Iowa has had in place a safe haven law since 2002 that allows parents to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or other healthcare facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services website.