Woman accused of leaving child with Down syndrome in hotel confe - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Woman accused of leaving child with Down syndrome in hotel conference room

Paloma Smith (Source: LMDC) Paloma Smith (Source: LMDC)
Paloma Smith appeared in court on Monday. (Source: Justin Hawkins/WAVE 3 News) Paloma Smith appeared in court on Monday. (Source: Justin Hawkins/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville mother is behind bars, accused of abandoning her child with special needs child in a hotel conference room.

Paloma Smith, 30, is charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and criminal trespassing.

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According to an arrest report, a member of the housekeeping staff at the Galt House hotel in downtown Louisville found the 9-year-old child in a 16th-floor conference room around 3:15 a.m. Sunday. The housekeeper said when she made contact with the child, the child was shaking and crying and was visibly scared. 

Louisville Metro police said about 20 minutes after contact with the child, Smith came into the room claiming to be the mother. 

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Officers said Smith was dismissive of their questions and tried to remove the child from the room. Police said they tried to explain to the mother that the child needed to be checked out by EMS, prompting Smith to become aggressive with the officer.

LMPD said Smith was not staying at the hotel, had no reason to be in the conference room and placed the child, who has extreme special needs, in danger by being abandoned.

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"While we are still actively working to determine the specific details of this incident, we are grateful for and proud of our housekeeping staff for their quick action and compassion in the interest of this young child’s safety and well-being," Galt House General Manager Nick Briner said.

Smith was arraigned on her charges Monday. The judge ordered her not to have contact with the Galt House or her daughter. 

This is not the first time WAVE 3 News has reported on Smith abandoning her child. In February 2014, a neighbor found the girl home alone in the apartment covered in waste. The neighbor told WAVE 3 News she hadn't seen Smith for a week.

"She gave me a big hug, and I was like, 'Where’s mommy?'" Anna Johnson said in 2014. "She went like that, 'She has Down syndrome.'"

The child, who was six at the time, was placed into foster care and Smith spoke to WAVE 3 News about why she left her daughter home alone in 2014. She said she was in desperate need of help to treat her her bi-polar disorder and PTSD.

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"I think that people should consider the possibility that we were both victims to this disease," Paloma Smith said in a 2014 interview with WAVE 3 News. 

On Monday, Smith's landlord said she was surprised Smith recently regained custody of the daughter and is heartbroken the girl was abandoned again. 

Smith was never charged in that 2014 incident, but she does have a criminal history.

WAVE 3 News found out that Down Syndrome of Louisville is very familiar with Smith and her daughter. The organization has worked with Smith's daughter since she was born. The executive director of Down Syndrome of Louisville said she and many staff members were shocked, concerned and mad when they heard the child was abandoned again. 

Last summer, while in foster care, the child took part in a program with Down Syndrome of Louisville. The group just recently learned the child was placed back into Smith's custody.

"That gave us deep concern," Down Syndrome of Louisville Executive Director Diana Merzweiler said. "We were expecting the young lady and her parent to be here for an open house on Friday for our school age enrichment program and they did not attend. We were expecting the student to be with us (Monday). She was enrolled for six weeks for our summer enrichment program, and obviously she's not here."

Merzweiler said she is deeply concerned about the child's welfare, and is trying to make sure the child stays in a stable environment. 

Smith is at Metro Corrections on a $10,000 cash bond. She's due back in court June 29.

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