BENNINGTON -- A man whose complaint that someone wanted to kidnap his baby and caused part of the local hospital to go into a "lock down" is facing charges of false reporting.
Jeremy J. Gates, 27, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to misdemeanor counts of false information to a police officer, and false alarm. He was released and a competency evaluation was ordered.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Cpl. Andy Hunt, on Nov. 27 at 5:40 p.m. he went to the Women and Children's Services department of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center where there had been a report of someone possibly wanting to kidnap a newborn. There he spoke with a nurse who said the report came to her from a patient's husband, who was identified as Gates. Gates told the nurse a woman had come into his wife's room, taken photos of their baby without permission, then posted them to Facebook along with a message indicating she wished to steal the child and sell it for $300. Gates described the photo with some detail.
The department was placed under "lock down," which meant security staff were assigned to the entrances and anyone entering had to produce identification.
Gates told Hunt what he told the nurse and named the woman he was accusing of taking photos. Hunt spoke to the woman, who told him she had taken pictures of the baby, but they were never posted to Facebook nor were any comments about taking the child and selling it ever made. She showed Hunt the photos, which did not match Gates' description of them.
The woman said Gates had complained to her about another woman having taken a photograph of the baby. She then called Gates and placed him on speaker phone so Hunt could hear. He made mention of the first woman's Facebook account possibly being hacked, then hung up.
On Dec. 14 Hunt confronted Gates about his report having been false. Gates said he never saw the photos or the posts, then suggested the second woman involved had been the one to tell him about them. The second woman denied this, saying she does not know the other woman and only knew about the matter from having been told by Gates.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.