Sugar Land man says abandoned baby is his

September 10, 2009 8:50:10 AM PDT
A Texas man is claiming to be the father of a two-day-old boy who was abandoned in a Florence church several weeks ago, Italian police said Thursday. Florence Police Chief Giampaolo Monastra said police received an e-mail on Aug. 20 from the man, identified as Brandon Henry. The man wrote that he believed his girlfriend gave birth while visiting Italy and left the newborn in the church, where a nun found the child July 29.

Police in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, Texas, are investigating on their end, Monastra said. He added that Henry was from the Houston area. Monastra identified the possible mother as Stephany Chavarria, and said in a telephone interview that she had been visiting in Italy with her parents for several weeks this summer.

"We are still investigating, but she could be accused of abandoning a minor," Monastra said.

Still to be determined is whether either Henry or Chavarria is a parent of the child, he said.

"I do think that we will be doing a DNA test to determine the paternity of the child," he said.

All births of children in Italian hospitals must be registered, but it appeared that the boy was born "either at home or in a hotel," the Florence police official said.

When the baby was found, Carmelite nuns at a convent attached to the church told Italian reporters they noticed a woman with a baby praying shortly before the boy was found. The baby was taken to the hospital for temporary care. Monastra, citing privacy, declined to say where the baby is now.

In cases of abandonment, infants are usually put in foster care until courts determine if they should be put up for adoption.

Monastra said the Texas man told police that when his girlfriend came back from Italy no longer pregnant, she told him that the baby had died.

"We spoke to the purported father by phone and he confirmed everything he had written in the e-mail," Monastra said. He added that the woman had later told Texas police that she indeed was the mother.

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