McDonald's Fires Mom Who Let 9-Year-Old Play Alone

But Debra Harrell now has custody of daughter again

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 23, 2014 3:10 AM CDT | Updated Jul 23, 2014 8:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – The South Carolina single mom arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play in a park while she worked at McDonald's has been given her daughter back—but has lost her job. The lawyer representing Debra Harrell pro bono says McDonald's has let her go, but he isn't sure why, reports ThinkProgress. A McDonald's spokeswoman declined to comment. Harrell has been charged with unlawful neglect of a child, and her lawyer says that although she has been reunited with her daughter, the Department of Social Services probe is ongoing.

According to the blog Reason, Harrell had been bringing her daughter to work and letting her play on a laptop, but she started dropping her off at a nearby park while she worked after their home was broken into and the laptop was stolen. The lawyer tells CNN he thinks it's "absurd" to say the girl was "abandoned" at the park a few minutes' walk from her house. "Because if this woman gets convicted, guess what? ... From now on, do officers now have an obligation every time they see a 9-and-a-half-year-old not in the presence of their parents, do the parents get arrested?" he says. "It truly is the classic slippery slope." Amid public outcry over the case, a fundraising page set up to help Harrell has received more than $31,000 in donations.

Debra Harrell has now been reunited with her daughter.
Debra Harrell has now been reunited with her daughter.   (YouCaring/Debra Harrell)
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Her child was not put in an unreasonable risk of harm by being in the park. It was as simple as that. - Robert Verner Phillips,
Harrell's attorney

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