Two days ago, 40 year old Rita Bateza parked a car at Deer Park Elementary School in New Port Richey to go to a book fair. Detectives say she left behind a 2 ½ year old child she was taking care of in the car, leaving her for 90 minutes with the windows rolled up and no air conditioning. The girl was crying and drenched in sweat when someone passing by the vehicle noticed the toddler. Bateza of Port Richey was arrested on a charge of child neglect. The relationship between Bateza and the child is unknown. The girl received minor injuries and was in custody of family last night. Bateza first claimed she forgot the child was in the car, but then changed her story, authorities said, admitting that she left her.
Several years ago she was investigated for a similar situation, but that time it involved a 6-month-old left in a car for 30 minutes. She wasn’t charged in that case.