WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Usually, it's an empty threat: "If you kids don't stop fighting, I'm going to stop this car right now and leave you here!" But a mother from an upper-crust New York suburb went through with it, ordering her battling 10- and 12-year-old daughters out of her car in White Plains' business district and driving off, police said Tuesday.
Madlyn Primoff, 45, a partner in a Manhattan law firm, pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of endangering a child. A temporary order of protection was issued, barring her from contact with the children, who were physically unharmed.
Primoff's lawyer, Vincent Briccetti, would not comment Tuesday on details of the case. But he said, "Madlyn is a great mother connected with a great family, and she is grateful for the outpouring of support from friends and family."
There wasn't much support from strangers, however. Mothers interviewed near the scene said they couldn't imagine doing what Primoff did, though some understood the urge.
Iris Gorodess, 49, of Mahopac, who has four children ranging from 10 to 19 years old, said she sympathized with Primoff's actions, right up to the point where she pulled away.
"I used to pull over and make the kids change seats. Also, I make sure the kids have their iPods and their games. And I have a minivan, so they're not up my neck all the time.
"But I can't see pulling away. That has to be too scary for the children."
White Plains police said Primoff ordered the arguing girls out of the car Sunday evening as they were driving home. She left them at Post Road and South Broadway, an area of shops and offices 3 miles from their home, then drove off, the police report said.
The report does not say whether the girls had cell phones.
Police would not say if Primoff ever returned to look for the girls, but they said, without explaining how, that the 12-year-old eventually caught up with the mother. The 10-year-old was found by a "Good Samaritan" on the street, upset and emotional about losing her mother, police said.
The girl gave police her mother's name and their address in well-to-do Scarsdale, and they asked Scarsdale police to check Primoff's $2 million house. Shortly afterward, Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing, said Scarsdale Detective Lt. Bryant Clark.
He directed her to White Plains police headquarters, where she was arrested.
Dr. Richard Gersh, director of psychiatric services at the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in Manhattan, said Primoff's behavior was not appropriate.
"It is a traumatic situation for a child to be abandoned by a parent like that. You can imagine what emotional issues might arise," he said.