BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — DANVERS — A woman hired off a website as a nanny to watch two young Danvers children repeatedly left a 2-year-old child alone inside a Conant Street apartment last spring, prosecutors allege.
And when confronted by police, Lisa Dibiasso, 23, first claimed that she had been kidnapped, then later insisted to investigators that she was being stalked and had fled the apartment for the safety of the child.
Yesterday, Dibiasso, who recently moved from Peabody to Burlington, pleaded not guilty to a single count of child endangerment. But prosecutor Patrick Collins told a Salem District Court judge that the investigation is continuing and that police may be filing additional counts as they determine exactly how many times the 2-year-old girl was left alone last spring.
For now, Dibiasso remains free on her own recognizance on the condition that she not work with children.
The child’s mother had hired Dibiasso through the website Care.com to care for her two children while she was at work, she later told police. An older child was apparently at school during the morning hours.
But two upstairs neighbors were concerned when they saw Dibiasso leave the apartment several times alone. They spoke to the mother of the children, who agreed to let them enter her apartment to check on the child if they saw it happen again.
On the morning of May 9, it did, Collins told Judge Robert Brennan. The neighbors found the toddler alone in the first-floor apartment. They called the mother and police and took the child to their apartment.
About a half-hour later, police were present when Dibiasso called the mother and heard the mother say, “You were kidnapped?”
Patrolman Phil Tansey took the phone, and Dibiasso then told him the kidnapping story — which the officer quickly rejected.
“I asked her to stop,” Tansey wrote in his report, warning Dibiasso that she was only making matters worse by filing a false police report. During a later interview at the police station, Dibiasso allegedly admitted leaving the child alone, though she had no idea for how long, before claiming that she was being stalked by a man who had driven past the apartment seven times.
She insisted that she had left for the child’s safety, then later claimed that the neighbors “had it in” for her.
That’s also what she told an assistant clerk magistrate during a show cause hearing in September, when she claimed that the neighbors were simply disgruntled because she had replaced them as baby sitters — something the neighbors denied.
She made similar claims yesterday through her court-appointed attorney, Mark Barry.
Collins said that while the child was not physically harmed during the time alone, the child’s mother now believes that her daughter is exhibiting behaviors often seen in children who are abandoned. Collins said Dibiasso cared for the girl for about four months before she was fired after the May incident.
Barry also pointed to the court clerk’s initial decision not to issue a complaint in the case, which was later appealed by Danvers police and then reversed.
Collins asked Brennan to set $500 bail in the case, a request the judge denied, noting that Dibiasso had appeared for both the clerk’s hearing and her arraignment yesterday. He did add a condition that Dibiasso not work with children while the case is pending.
Barry said his client is no longer working as a nanny.
She has no Massachusetts criminal record.
According to Dibiasso’s Facebook page, she is a high school graduate, but there is no indication that she has attended college or taken part in other child-care courses.
It’s unclear what sort of vetting, if any, the Waltham-based Care.com site performs.
Meredith Robertson, a spokeswoman for the company, which also runs listings for other types of caregivers as well as pet-sitting, said the firm is cooperating with law enforcement and therefore “cannot comment on the specifics.”
She went on to say, “We’re deeply disappointed by this situation, and our thoughts are with the family.”
The site offers access to optional “background checks” on potential caregivers, but a disclaimer on the site notes that the website does not endorse or recommend caregivers “nor is it responsible for the conduct of any care provider or care seeker.”
The site also says those using the site are “solely responsible for selecting an appropriate care provider.”
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 31.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.