A mother is sounding off, saying a judge humiliated her for breastfeeding in court.
Natalie Hegedus says it happened Tuesday at the 7th District Court in Paw Paw. She was there fighting a boating ticket that led to a bench warrant when she missed her initial court appearance.
“I cried for two hours,” said Hegedus, “I sat here and cried, calling up breastfeeding friends to tell them what had just happened to me.”
Hegedus says she was in court with her five-month-old son, Landen, on Tuesday, just days after he was violently ill.
“His temperature had spiked to 104 degrees,” said Hegedus. “We ended up in Paw Paw emergency room.”
Because Landen still had a fever, Hegedus says she had no choice but to bring him to court with her, and after two and a half hours of waiting, Landen woke up, needing to eat.
“I had a shirt that I knew would be appropriate to breastfeed him and a nursing tank top that just unsnaps,” said Hegedus.
Once Landen began eating, Judge Robert Hentchel called Hegedus' case.
“The judge asks me if I thought it was appropriate to do that in court,” said Hegedus. “My response was very gauged and I said that considering the fact that my son is sick and he's hungry and the fact that it's not illegal, I don't find it inappropriate.”
“And how did he respond to that?” asked Newschannel 3's Jared Werksma.
“Something to the lines of 'it's his court, his rules and he does,'” said Hegedus.
In the court transcript, Hentchel says “You think that's appropriate in here?”
Hegedus responds “it's not illegal, I have to feed my son,” and Hentchel says “Ma'am, it's my courtroom, I decide what's appropriate in here, come on up, okay. You have to understand that a judge, the laws don't apply in a courtroom, the judge's law applies, do you understand that?
Hegedus responds with “Yes” and Hentcell says “Okay, we're going to get along just fine.”
“It was very short, he was very, very short,” said Hegedus. “It came across as raising his voice and being abrasive to me.”
Newschannel 3 wasn't allowed to speak with Judge Hentcel directly, but the 7th District Court Chief Judge Paul Hamre told us;
“It's inappropriate to come before the court on criminal charges holding your baby. I don't allow that in my court. I don't believe Hentchel did anything inappropriate, he did not sanction her, he did not raise his voice, he did not find her in contempt, he didn't even ask her to leave the courtroom.”
Hegedus says that's not how she interpreted it.
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