D.C. parents claim they were monitoring children in locked car

WASHINGTON – A couple accused of leaving their children in a locked car while they attended a wine tasting told police they were keeping an eye on the two toddlers and even left a phone in the car to monitor the children.

When D.C. police approached the car parked on 23rd Street NW, last Saturday, the 2 1/2-year-old girl was crying “hysterically.” Although wearing coats, the children were not wearing hats or mittens. And the youngest child, a 22-month-old boy, was not wearing shoes or socks. The temperature was 35 degrees, according to court records.

Their parents Jennie Chang and Christopher, also known as Christophe, Lucas have each been charged with two counts of attempted, second-degree cruelty to children.

A passerby saw the children in the car and called police about 4:30 p.m., saying he hadn’t seen anyone approach the car for 20 minutes, court records say.

According to court documents, Chang, 46, approached the three responding officers asking “what is the problem?”

Lucas, 41, told officers that the toddlers weren’t alone long and that he was watching them. He pulled a cellphone out of the car that displayed an ongoing call to Chang that had lasted 58 minutes, court records say.

Lucas also told police that the children had been asleep when he went inside Ris restaurant.

A restaurant employee and exterior surveillance video confirmed that the couple, who live a few blocks away, had been at the restaurant for almost an hour when police arrived.

Child Protective Services took the children into custody.

In a separate case last October, Lucas was charged with a misdemeanor after police say he struck the side of a car with an empty stroller. He told officers the car was turning when it was his turn to walk. The case was dismissed.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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