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Judge Finds No Probable Cause for Child Endangerment Charges Against Teacher Who Put Covid-19-Positive Son in Car Trunk


Sarah Hadassah Beam

A Texas woman and teacher is now walking free after she allegedly put her 13-year-old Covid-19-positive son in the trunk of her car in order to keep herself from being exposed to the virus.

Sarah Hadassah Beam, 41, all-but had her case dismissed by a Harris County judge who said there was no probable cause for the child endangerment charges filed against her earlier this year.

During a Thursday hearing, Judge Chris Morton (D) discharged the defendant based on the lack of probable cause. Prosecutors, however, could still press forward with criminal charges if they are so inclined.

Beam was arrested on Jan. 8 on one felony count of endangering a child and released after posting $1,500 bond. The charges against her were filed after she drove her son to a drive-thru testing site at Pridgeon Stadium in Houston on Jan. 3 in order to have him re-tested.

During that testing visit, Beam allegedly told a school district’s director of health services that she had placed her son in the trunk of her car in order to keep herself from being infected while she was driving, according to court documents obtained by Law&Crime.

“Witness stated that when she requested to see the child (K.H.), defendant had to unlatch the trunk of the vehicle in which the child was lying down inside the trunk,” Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District police wrote in a criminal complaint.

The health director allegedly told Beam that no Covid-19 testing would be provided until her son had left the trunk and was allowed inside the car. After that, the witness called law enforcement.

Police say they consulted surveillance footage that corroborated the witness’s story. In the video, the boy can allegedly be seen exiting the trunk and getting into the back seat of Beam’s vehicle. The boy’s mother also allegedly admitted to putting her son inside the trunk, purportedly to keep herself safe, when questioned at the testing site.

According to Houston NBC affiliate KPRC, Beam has worked as a high school English teacher with the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, suburbs located northwest of Houston, since 2011. She was placed on administrative leave after being charged.

“CFPD was alerted that a child was in the trunk of a car at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site earlier this week,” the school district told KPRC. “Law enforcement conducted a full investigation, resulting in a warrant for arrest. Thankfully, the child was not harmed.”

“I think she needs to be held accountable if she put a kid in a trunk,” one of her neighbors told the outlet. “I have a problem with that.”

The lack of probable cause finding does not technically qualify as a dismissal — though prosecutors often defer to such decisions.

“We will review all the evidence gathered by police and make a determination on how to proceed, including the possibility of presenting this case to a grand jury, so that representatives of the people of Harris County can decide whether a criminal charge is appropriate,” Harris County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Dane Schiller said in a statement obtained by Houston Fox affiliate KRIV. “We absolutely respect the judge’s ruling and we will continue with our work.”

Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.

[image via screengrab/KPRC]

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