A British couple have vowed to fight charges that they endangered their baby daughter by leaving her alone in their car in New York.
Holidaymakers Yisroel Singer, 26, and his wife Goldie, 25, were arrested last week after leaving their six-month-old daughter in the car park of a shopping centre.
They had dashed inside to take another of their three young daughters who recently had a bladder infection to the toilet.
The couple from Stamford Hill, north London, are free on €141 bail and have voluntarily surrendered their passports, says their lawyer, Meir Moza.
He said they were the victims of a “cultural misunderstanding”, because leaving a child alone in a car in Europe for short periods was acceptable but was “taboo” in the United States.
After the couple appeared in Nassau County District Court on Long Island yesterday Mr Moza explained why the couple acted as they did.
He said their three-year-old, Rachel, was crying in pain, in need of the toilet after her recent illness.
Their other daughter, Haya, two, was also distressed, so Mr and Mrs Singer decided to stop and take them inside the Green Acres shopping centre on Long Island.
They left their six-month-old, Rosie, in her car seat, rushing inside for what they thought would take about a minute.
In fact, because they did not know the layout of the shopping centre, they took between five or seven minutes.
By the time they returned, a passer-by had told police about the lone child.
The couple were arrested and charged with child endangerment - a misdemeanour with a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
Mr Moza said: “They made a decision to leave their six-month-old baby Rosie. She was sleeping and safe.
“There is just a difference in mentality. Americans do not understand the British or European mentality which allows parents to make decisions where there is an emergency situation… sometimes that entails leaving the kid for a few minutes.
“In the United States it’s a taboo. You don’t leave them for a second because of all the hijacking, car-jacking, kidnapping.”
Mr Moza said the Singer family had been staying with relatives in Brooklyn and were due to fly home on New Year’s Eve.
He said they were initially panicked by their arrest.
“They were very alarmed about the reaction, making them as if they were the enemy of the state. I explained to them the American mentality and how to look at things.
“Now they are upbeat. They are happy to see that their message about the British mentality was conveyed to the American community in court.”
He added: “They have a profound desire to go back to England. Their flight was due on Wednesday. They were going to celebrate the New Year in England.”
The children have remained in the care of Mr and Mrs Singer.
Both will appear in Nassau County District Court again on January 9.