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'That’s just how you do it in Denmark': Actress jailed 20 years ago for leaving her toddler OUTSIDE a New York restaurant while she had dinner says America overreacted and she would do it again (7 Pics)

Twenty years after going to jail for leaving her baby in a stroller outside a New York City restaurant, Anette Sørensen is ready to set the record straight.

A Danish woman jailed by New York police 20 years ago for leaving her baby in a stroller outside a restaurant is speaking out. The woman, Anette Sørensen (right), is seen with her daughter, Liv, 21, who was just 14 months old at the time of the incident

In 2012, she published a novel based on the “traumatizing” experience, “A Worm in the Apple” in her native Denmark, and she has just launched a Kickstarter fund to get it translated into English.
“It’s a way of getting back what I never got,” said Sørensen, who feels she was treated unfairly by the city and the press and didn’t get to tell her side of the story. “I would like [it] if I could just say what I think.”
Reliving her experiences from May 1997 was not easy. The then-30-year-old aspiring actress had gotten pregnant while studying theater in New York City the previous year, and she had flown to the Big Apple from Copenhagen to introduce her 14-month-old, Liv, to the baby’s Brooklyn-based father, a playwright named Exavier Wardlaw.

Sørensen was a 30-year-old aspiring actress who returned to New York City in May 1997 from Copenhagen. She met up with Exavier Wardlaw, the biological father of her then-14-month-old daughter, Liv (seen here in May 1997)

When she and Wardlaw decided to grab a drink at a Dallas BBQ in the East Village, she did what she would have done back home. She left little Liv outside sleeping in her stroller.
“I had lived in New York [during school], so, of course, I knew that I didn’t see prams all over the city,” said Sørensen. “But . . . I had been living in Copenhagen, I had given birth to my daughter in Copenhagen, I was raised myself in Denmark .  .  . That’s just how you do it in Denmark.”
Sørensen said it’s a superior parenting style, showing what Danish people call “tillid”: a deep trust that is an essential part of the culture.
“People live in fear [in the US]. Children are not allowed to play in the playground alone,” said Sørensen, who now lives in Hamburg with her husband, Mike, and their two teenage children. (Liv, the baby at the center of the scandal, is now 21 years old and studying design in Copenhagen.)
“That’s why it’s important for me now to get [my book] into English, to show it’s possible to live another way.”

The couple decided to grab a drink at Dallas BBQ in Manhattan's East Village (above). Sørensen decided to leave Liv and her baby stroller outside the restaurant as she and Wardlaw were inside while keeping an eye on her from the window

Sørensen claimed that she was sitting by the window at Dallas BBQ and keeping watch over Liv. Diners and servers at the restaurant told the press, including The New York Post, that the child had been crying, and that the couple had ignored the server’s request to bring the baby inside, and continued drinking instead. Sørensen insisted that wasn’t the case and said Liv was sleeping calmly until someone called 911 and the cops showed up.

After servers and diners complained about the baby being left outside, police arrived and arrested Sørensen and Wardlaw (seen far right) for child endangerment

“The first time she woke up was when the officer took her out of the pram,” she said.
Initially, the first two officers on the scene were going to let her leave with the baby. She went into the restaurant to quickly pay the bill, but then a third policeman arrived.
“I said, ‘I’m leaving now,’ and he said, ‘No, you’re not: You’re arrested,’” she said. “It was unreal . . . I did not break any kind of law. I never, ever thought this could happen.”
Several witnesses at the scene at the time reported that Sørensen and Wardlaw yelled at the police, but she said they remained fairly calm.
Officers charged both parents with child endangerment and Wardlaw with disorderly conduct.
Sørensen spent 36 hours in prison, where she said she didn’t get much sympathy from the other inmates. Liv was put in foster care by the city’s Administration for
Children’s Services. The case made the front page of The Post.
“I didn’t know where my child was,” said Sørensen. “I don’t think there’s any greater punishment than to have your child taken away from you.”

The charges against her were eventually dropped on condition that she leave the United States

The case made front-page news and generated headlines in the local press, which Sørensen says treated her unfairly. While the local media in America treated her as a negligent parent, the Danish press rose to her defense

The two were reunited four days after the arrest, but Sørensen had to stay in New York another few weeks to go to civil court and criminal court. Her brother and her best friend came from Denmark to offer support. The American press admonished her for being a negligent, selfish mother — particularly after she decided to sue the city, in 1999 and again in 2003 — while Danish news outlets rose to her defense
“For every Dane it was a nightmare because we are used to living like that,” said Sørensen.
Her travails echo a more recent case. In 2015, Louise Fielden, a female cop from Britain, was arrested after leaving her sleeping 15-month-old son alone in a Manhattan hotel room for 75 minutes.
Police took the boy from her and placed him in foster care. Fielden, who was eventually cleared of criminal charges, defended her actions, saying leaving children alone for short periods of time was “normal and acceptable” in her native culture. Just this month, a judge ruled that Fielden had the right to file a $50 million civil negligence suit against the city.
“[My] case that happened 20 years ago is even more relevant today,” Sørensen said.
Despite all she’s been through, Sørensen said she wouldn’t change her parenting approach.
“Of course, you should be allowed to put your child outside when you’re sitting behind the window and you can see it,” she said. In fact, when she moved to Hamburg 16 years ago with her husband, Mike, she continued that tradition with their children, Xara and Max.
“It’s not as normal to [leave your children outside] in Hamburg [as it is in Scandinavia],” she said. “But, yes, I did.”

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