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North Belle Vernon woman accused of leaving kids home alone

| Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, 2:06 p.m.
Kristi Lauren Novak
Kristi Lauren Novak

A North Belle Vernon woman is accused of leaving her children home alone for the second time in four months.

Borough police charged Kristi Lauren Novak, 24, of Broad Avenue with two counts of endangering the welfare of children for allegedly leaving two of her three children unsupervised Tuesday.

Police said the boys, ages 3 and 4, were running through the hallways at the apartment building. A neighbor saw the children and called police.

Lt. Ron Van Scyoc went to Novak's apartment and found the door open. He said no one responded after he identified himself, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

When he realized the children were alone, Van Scyoc contacted the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau and tried to call Novak on her cell phone.

A Westmoreland County 911 dispatcher told Van Scyoc that Novak called 911 to report she had a babysitter. Van Scyoc eventually spoke to Novak on the phone, and he told her the children were alone, according to the affidavit.

Van Scyoc disputed Novak's claim that she arrived home at 7 p.m. as he was there until 7:05 p.m., the affidavit states. During the call, Van Scyoc stated he heard Novak's 1-year-old baby yelling in the background. But when she arrived at the police station at 8:05 p.m., the baby was not with her.

She reportedly told Van Scyoc she took the baby to the Fallowfield home of a friend, Melissa Baker, because she didn't want to bring the child to the station, the affidavit states.

When Van Scyoc told Novak to have Baker bring the baby to the station, she allegedly changed her story, saying Baker was at work and the child was somewhere else, police said.

Children's bureau caseworker Amanda Bush, along with foster parents, took custody of the older children and then picked the baby up at the Fallowfield residence at 9:35 p.m. Novak was arraigned Wednesday morning by Magisterial District Judge Charles Christner in Rostraver and sent to the Westmoreland County Prison in Hempfield in lieu of $10,000 cash bond.

She faces a preliminary hearing 10:15 a.m. Sept. 28 before Christner.

Previous case

Van Scyoc charged Novak with three counts of child endangerment after she allegedly left her children alone May 4.

Police were called to her apartment that day after an unidentified man ran into the middle of Broad Avenue to keep Novak's older children from being hit by a vehicle.

Van Scyoc allegedly found the 1-year-old baby alone in a playpen in the apartment's utility room. Van Scyoc said a dresser in the small room blocked the doorway.

In that case, Novak appeared May 26 before Westmoreland County Judge Rita D. Hathaway.

Hathaway ordered Novak to complete parenting classes and comply with children's bureau conditions.

She was accepted into the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time, nonviolent offenders.

The program does not require an admission of guilt. Those who successfully complete the program may petition the court to have their criminal records expunged.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2667 or jsellew@tribweb.com.

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