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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dorm birth ends in arrest

    Sarah Tatum
    Sarah Tatum

    A UA student was taken into custody and charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse after she gave birth to a male infant in Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall sometime before 5:40 p.m. on Feb. 23, police said.

    Sarah Tatum, 19, a pre-business sophomore, was arrested after she was released from University Medical Center around 11 a.m., Wednesday, and was booked into Pima County Jail at 12:13 p.m., said University Arizona Police Department Operations Support Commander Kevin Haywood.

    “”On their arrival (at Arizona-Sonora) they found that a female had given birth to a child,”” Haywood said. “”Tucson Fire (Department) was on scene and provided her evaluation and treatment and transported (her) to a medical facility for further evaluation.””

    Haywood said the baby is still alive and is being cared for at UMC.

    One of Tatum’s hallmates, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the severity of the incident, said Tatum remained in the community shower from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 23, until the hallmate and another woman pulled her out.

    “”She had told me that she had the stomach flu,”” the hallmate said. “”She gave birth around 1 p.m., and the hallmates pulled her out of the shower around 4 to 4:30 p.m.””

    After they pulled Tatum out of the shower, the hallmate said they saw a bag of what they thought were bloody clothes, but the bag then started to move, causing the hallmate to alert the hall director who called the police.

    “”The plastic bag was the kind with the draw string on top,”” said Jamie Perez, a family studies and human development freshman, who lives in Arizona-Sonora and is a close friend of the hallmate. “”She tied the bag so tight that the policeman had to cut it with a knife.””

    Confirming the account, the eyewitness hallmate told the Daily Wildcat “”it was an American Eagle, PacSun type of bag.””

    Carol Thompson, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said the UA has taken the necessary precautions to provide students with an array of trauma recovery services.

    “”We’re heartbroken about the situation and certainly want to make sure that students over in Arizona-Sonora have support, friends of Sarah’s have support,”” Thompson said. “”We have made sure that those that need assistance have those resources at hand and we have made counseling from our Counseling and Psychological Services available to them as well.””

    Thompson said regardless of Tatum’s legal status, she would have to meet with a code of conduct officer before she could return to the UA.

    “”She is currently interimly suspended, which is per our procedures,”” Thompson said. “”She will have an opportunity to meet with someone in our office to talk about the interim suspension status and if it will remain.””

    Perez said Tatum tried to conceal her pregnancy and would not admit to anyone that she was pregnant.

    “”We all thought she was pregnant, and when we would walk into the room she would turn and not face us,”” Perez said. “”When people confronted her she said that it was a thyroid problem.””

    Thompson said if students ever feel they are facing a difficult situation, there are plenty of on campus resources available to help them.

    “”There are people here who care and there are people who are willing to assist a student who might have any kind of situation that arises in their life where they need to talk to somebody,”” Thompson said.

    This incident caught Tatum’s friends totally by surprise, Perez said.

    “”No one expected any of this from her,”” she said. “”She is brilliant; she just applied for Eller (College of Management), and she is a really nice girl.””

    Tatum, who is from Scottsdale, had her initial court appearance on Wednesday, and was released from jail into the custody of Pretrial Services under the conditions that she surrender her passport within 48 hours, agree to not leave Pima County, have no contact with the alleged victim and seek a mental health examination. Her preliminary hearing is set for March 17 at 1:30 p.m in Pima County Justice Court.

    Haywood said there were no further details involving the case as it is currently under investigation.

    “”Right now the case is still under investigation and we are not commenting on any specifics of the investigation until such time that it is complete,”” Haywood said. “”We don’t want to ruin our investigation or cause certain things to happen that would influence things that we’re still following up on.””

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