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Teacher: Act of Kindness Could Get Me 15 Years

Amy Martz says she only wanted to help a little girl
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2019 1:35 PM CST

(Newser) – A Utah teacher says she was just trying to help a little girl find her parents. The result: a first-degree kidnapping charge. Amy Martz, who teaches sixth grade at Fox Hollow Elementary in West Jordan, calls the felony charge "life-altering." "I've dedicated my life to helping children," she tells Fox 13. "I'm a rule follower. I stay safely on the side of policy and law." According to Martz, she saw the fifth-grader crying "uncontrollably" on Sept. 5 while holding her water bottle over her head. Martz told her the school's water supply was stymied by a water main break, but the girl "continued to bawl, crying loudly. I said 'come on, I will walk with you. Tell me how you get home.'"

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The mostly non-verbal child indicated she didn't want to get on a school bus or wait at the parent pick-up area, per the Deseret News. Martz says she kept walking with the girl, following her lead, until another teacher spotted them and drove them back to school. Total time gone: 40 minutes. "I did not learn until later that she had autism," says Martz, who apparently failed to explain what had happened to the girl's Spanish-speaking father. Now Martz is facing up to 15 years in prison. "What this comes down to is intent," her attorney explains. Fox 13 reports that according to school protocol, Martz should have called the parent after finding the girl wasn't getting on a bus home. (An autistic boy's death led to charges for another school.)

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