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Police Take Custody of Newborn Girl at Hospital

Times Staff Writers

A premature infant remained in intensive care Tuesday, 3 days after Newport Beach police took protective custody because the mother allegedly refused medical treatment for the newborn daughter.

Police were investigating possible charges of child endangerment against the mother, Laura R. Moute of Santa Ana, who was found through a hospital urine test to have traces of cocaine and amphetamines in her system, according to Lt. Tim Newman of the Newport Beach Police Department.

“The baby’s life or well-being was endangered by the presence of a controlled substance in her (the baby’s) body,” Newman said. “The mother also refused to allow any treatment for the child, and according to the doctors, would not sign a release for her care.”

A spokeswoman at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, where the baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean section Sunday, said mother and child were in stable condition. The hospital declined to provide further information.

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Newman said hospital officials called police at about 5 p.m. Sunday, after Moute allegedly refused medical assistance for the newborn, which was delivered 5 to 7 weeks early after Moute went into labor. In addition to respiratory and other health problems associated with prematurity, the infant is underweight and malnourished, Newman said. Police records refer to the newborn as “Baby Girl Moute.”

Moute Tuesday denied that she had refused any treatment for her daughter.

“That is an absolute lie,” Moute said in a telephone interview from her hospital bed. “I want the baby, and as far as I know, she’s doing fine.”

Moute, 30, said she had no other children. She declined to say whether she is married or employed or if she knowingly took narcotics. A search of Orange County birth records showed no evidence of an infant with the last name “Moute” born in the county.

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State law allows police to take a child into protective custody without a court order until a hearing to assign temporary custody can be held in Juvenile Court, according to Sylvia Wall of the Orange County Social Services Agency.

Newport Beach police were unable to interview Moute on Sunday because she was sedated after the surgical birth, Newman said. The results of the police investigation were expected to be sent to the district attorney later in the week.

Newman said it is not yet known if the baby is drug-addicted or suffers any drug-related illnesses. Moute has no prior arrests and, as far as police have been able to determine, no record of treatment for drug abuse, Newman said.


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