D.C. parents who left children during wine tasting take plea deal

WASHINGTON — Two D.C. parents accused of leaving their young children in a chilly car while they attended a wine tasting have accepted a plea deal.

Christophe Lucas, 41, and Jennie Chang, 45, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree cruelty to children in D.C. Superior Court Thursday.

In court, they admitted they left their children, who are close to 2 and 3 years old, in the car while they went to the Ris restaurant in the District’s West End neighborhood in January, as temperatures hovered around 35 degrees. Prosecutors said the children were wearing coats but not hats or gloves, and one was not wearing socks or shoes.

Under terms of the deal, the charges will be dismissed in nine months if the couple maintains good behavior and attends a parenting class, which they have already completed.

Had they been found guilty of two counts each of attempted second-degree cruelty charges, each would have faced a maximum of six months in jail.

Lucas and Chang were originally charged with two counts each of second-degree cruelty to children.

The couple did not make a statement in court. However Chang’s lawyer Danny Onorato released this statement to WTOP:

“Jennie Chang and Christophe Lucas are caring, dedicated parents who had an unfortunate lapse of judgment a month ago. Ms. Chang and Mr. Lucas were monitoring and watching their children from about 50 feet away, and the parents are adamant that the children were not in any danger. They realize that their actions were wrong and they are eager to place this matter behind them. They’re pleased that the matter is now resolved and they can focus on raising their children. As you know, this case will be dismissed in December.”

The children have been returned to their parents, Onorato says.

Lucas and Chang did not disagree with the prosecution’s account. But Onorato insisted in court that the car was always within eyesight and the parents used a phone left in the car to monitor the children.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up