Mum arrested for leaving baby outside restaurant as she dined reveals simple reason she did it

A mother who was arrested for leaving her baby outside a New York eatery in 1997 says she still feels she was unjustly vilified and has explained why she did it.

Then an actress in her 30s, Sørensen parked her 14-month-old daughter in a pram outside a barbecue restaurant in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood while she and the baby's father, a New York-based playwright, had margaritas inside on a chilly May evening.

Sørensen said she repeatedly checked on the blanket-covered baby during the hour they were at the restaurant before a patron summoned police.

The parents were arrested on child-endangerment charges that were eventually dropped. Child welfare authorities briefly took charge of the girl.

Anette Sørensen, a 30-year-old actress from Copenhagen, left, Danish Consul General lawyer Peter Hesselund-Jensen, center, and Exavier Wardlaw, right, listen during a Family Court hearing in New York in 1997. Source: AAP
Sørensen, pictured here with her now 21-year-old daughter, said she is still owed an apology. Source: Kickstarter

Telling the New York Post how American parents "live in fear," Sørensen explained leaving a child unattended was common parenting practice in Denmark.

She said she was exercising what Danish people call "tillid" - a deep trust that is an essential part of the culture.

“I had lived in New York [during school], so, of course, I knew that I didn’t see prams all over the city,” she said.

“I had been living in Copenhagen, I had given birth to my daughter in Copenhagen, I was raised myself in Denmark… that’s just how you do it in Denmark.

“People live in fear [in the US], children are not allowed to play in the playground alone."

New York residents were astounded at the idea of parents leaving a child alone on a sidewalk.

Conversely in Denmark, residents were equally stunned by the notion of being arrested for leaving a child unattended for a spell while shopping or dining.

In this Dec. 7, 1999, file photo, attorney Michael Carey, left, and his client Anette Sørensen leave New York's U.S. District court after the second day of trial of her $20 million lawsuit against the city. Source: AP

Sørensen felt otherwise, filing a $20 million (AU$26 million) false-arrest lawsuit against the city.

A jury in 1999 awarded her $66,000 (AU$86,000) rejecting many of her claims but agreeing that she should not have been strip-searched, among other findings.

Sørensen, who now lives in Hamburg, Germany, with her husband two children said she is trying to raise money online to get an English translation of a novel she wrote based on her 1997 experience.

"I always had a big longing for an apology," she says in a fundraising video that also features her now 21-year-old daughter.

"I probably never will get this apology."