SMITHFIELD, NC (WRAL/CNN) - A North Carolina mom said a judge threatened to take her child away because she was breastfeeding in court.
The mother was in court over traffic tickets that included a seat belt violation.
Danielle Bell said she didn’t expect the focus to turn to her daughter’s feeding habits.
She doesn’t go anywhere without 3-month-old Penelope because the infant is dependent on breastfeeding.
“This is the way she survives, by breastfeeding, because she refuses a bottle,” Bell said.
She was breastfeeding her baby in a sling in court but not exposing herself.
The bailiff asked her to leave, citing a courthouse rule that prohibits children younger than 12 in the courtroom.
“I felt discriminated against,” Bell said.
She left the baby briefly in the hallway with her husband when her case was called.
Bell explained to Judge Resson Faircloth why she needed to have the baby with her at all times.
“If I leave her home, she’s unable to eat. He then replied to me that that was not his problem. And if I had any other excuse that he was going to take her that day and have me put in contempt, and that’s when I walked out of the courtroom crying,” Bell said.
The judge also told her not to bring the baby again.
A spokesperson for the office of Faircloth and the Chief District Court Judge of Johnston County said they had nothing to say about Bell’s allegations.
She is due back in court May 20.
“I definitely have fear of going back to the courthouse,” Bell said.