Authorities in Illinois have arrested a man for placing his toddler inside of a locked trunk outside of a business in Norridge earlier this month.
According to the New York Post, 28-year-old Boguslaw Matlak is facing a misdemeanor count of child endangerment over what he claimed was a closely controlled experiment.
He defended his actions in an interview with local reporters, explaining that he intended to stage a scene to prove that passersby will typically not step in to assist upon witnessing a person in apparent distress.
“When people see something wrong, they don’t get involved,” he said. “And when it comes down to kids, it’s everybody’s business to get involved.”
Matlak said he and his wife, Laura Quijano, went to a Panera Bread parking lot, along with their 3-year-old son and another adult, Nicholas Johnson.
The couple left a rear seat lowered so the child was not trapped in the locked trunk, but allowed him to appear as if he could be in danger to attract the intervention of a good Samaritan. Instead, an eyewitness contacted security at the location and police arrived a short time later.
According to a resulting police report, the passerby “related that they were alarmed and disturbed that anyone could do something like that to a small child, especially on a very hot day like it was.”
The temperature on the afternoon of Sept. 2 reached nearly 90 degrees.
Quijano reportedly called the incident a “social experiment,” according to police, who noted that the couple described themselves as “good parents.”
The third adult involved said he had no idea their behavior would be considered criminal.
“We expected people to understand what we did, but there was the police and then the arrest,” said Johnson, who added that he was “kind of shocked” at the extent of the response.
The local police chief said that even if the suspects intended no harm, the officers acted appropriately in treating the situation seriously.
“We’re always going to lean on what’s in the best interest of the child,” said Norridge Police Chief David Disselhorst. “Anybody who would put their kid in the trunk of a car, even as a joke, is going to have some explaining to do.”
The toddler was taken out of his parents’ custody, according to Quijano, who said the child’s “school is saying he is having behavioral issues” as a result.
Ahead of a court appearance set for later this week, Matlak said he regrets going through with the stunt, saying it “was for a good purpose” but has made it seem like he is “a very bad guy.”
[Featured image: Boguslaw Matlak, Norridge Police Department]