PENN HILLS (KDKA) – A man from Michigan was ordered to stand trial after he was accused of leaving five children unattended in a local hotel room.
And additional questions were raised at Monday’s hearing about more serious issues.
But the defendant says it’s all a misunderstanding.
“I’ve been taking care of a lot of children for many years so I was helping them out and that particular time it was bad judgment,” said defendant Glenn Wheaton. “I should have took them with me, but intentionally did something to them? No.”
That’s how Wheaton, from Detroit, explained how he ended up charged with endangering the welfare of five Detroit children, aged 10 to 13.
They were in Pittsburgh raising money for a charity, says Wheaton.
“Well the money goes to buy them clothing and it goes to buy them adequate food for them,” he said. “A lot of them come from impoverished areas, so it actually helps their parents a lot. I take them every spring or spring break they go out of town for a week or so.”
But at about 11:30 April 1, the desk at the Comfort Inn in Wilkins Township, where they were staying, got a call from the room: a child needed medical attention, but no adult was present.
When Wheaton was eventually located, he smelled of alcohol and was with two other men, police say.
But his lawyer says his three-hour absence can be explained.
“The one gentleman doesn’t have a driver’s license,” defense attorney Victor Vouga said. “They’re not from around here. The young man that normally stayed in the room with the children was the one taken ill. The driver was not familiar with the area, so he went with him. He left. The children had been fed, he thought most of them were still sleeping.”
Police also testified one child claimed they were touched inappropriately.
“When they say that one of them claimed that they were touched inappropriately, they haven’t charged him with that,” Vouga said. “To tell the truth, that’s the first time I heard anything about that, so I have no clue where that came from.”
Wheaton is allowed to go back to Detroit, but he’ll have to return to Allegheny County for trial.