A Van Nuys father has been charged with leaving his 9-month-old girl in his car for an hour during a daytime visit to a strip club, prosecutors said.
Auwin Dargin, 24, pleaded not guilty Monday to one count of child abuse, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. If convicted of the charges, Dargin faces up to six years in prison, prosecutor said.
The baby was found inside the car only after Matthew Nadeau, an assistant manager at Synn Gentleman's Club in North Hills, heard her cries.
Nadeau was patrolling the parking lot of the strip club about 2 p.m. on March 9 when he noticed one of his customers kept leaving the strip club every 15 minutes and returning.
Suspicious, Nadeau and a waitress stepped outside the club. They were shocked by what they found.
"We hear crying and then we saw a baby in the car," the 30-year-old father of five daughters said.
The car window was partly open, and the baby was visibly shaken, he said.
Eager to remove the crying baby from the car, Nadeau enlisted the help of his cousin, who squeezed his arm through the cracked window and quickly unlocked the car.
Nadeau removed the crying baby from her car seat and handed her to the waitress who fetched a cup of water. The baby was warm and visibly upset, he said.
Nadeau immediately notified his manager about the baby.
Dargin was in the middle of receiving a lap dance when the manager stepped in and stopped the action to notify him that they had just found his baby, he said. Dargin was angry that the manager stopped the dance.
Dargin left the club saying, "Just give me my baby and I know I am messing up," Nadeau said.
Nadeau called police and advised Dargin to call his wife, telling him "You can leave, but you are not leaving with your baby."
"I have daughters -- over my dead body am I going to let you take this baby today," Nadeau said he told Dargin.
Dargin accused Nadeau of kidnapping his baby, then got into a dispute with another customer. Nadeau said Dargin then ran away, leaving his daughter.
He didn't get far, however. As he was leaving, police showed up and stopped him.
LAPD officer Charles Chacon offered his reaction to the case to KNBC: "I thought it was unbelievable. I could not believe a father would put his child in that type of danger."
For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.