A Chicago couple arrested for putting their 2-year-old son inside the trunk of a car have claimed the incident is a misunderstanding and that they are good parents who were conducting a filmed social experiment to illuminate people’s responses to a child in a danger.
Boguslaw Matlak, 28, was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment on Sept. 2 after witnesses called the police to report that he put his son inside the locked trunk of his car in the parking lot of a Panera Bread in Norridge, Illinois, according to an arrest report obtained by Oxygen.com.
The responding officer spoke to three witnesses who each claimed they observed Matlak grab a toddler and place him in the rear trunk, slam it shut and drive off.
"The witnesses related to me the man was walking by, he yelled to the child in the trunk, 'you are being bad and I'm going to punish you by putting you in the trunk,’” the officer wrote in the report, adding that the witnesses were particularly disturbed that the boy was shoved in a trunk on such a hot day. It was 89 degrees out, according to police.
That incident occurred at around 3 p.m. on the day of the incident. The same officer was called back to the same Panera Bread parking lot within an hour after Matlak returned without the child.
Matlak was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment. After his arrest, Matlak’s wife Laura Quijano "became hysterical and started to cry and explain to officers on the scene how both of them are responsible parents and simply this was all a social prank and pleaded not to arrest her husband,” according to the arrest report.
Multiple hidden cameras were set up to record the experiment, according to WMAQ-TV in Chicago.
"We have provided them [police] with all of the proof that this was not real," Quijano told WMAQ-TV. "That my son was not in danger."
The case is being investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services.
Matlak told the Chicago Tribune he put his son in the trunk “just to send awareness to other people” to do something if a child is in danger.
“When people see something wrong, they won’t get involved,” Matlak said. “And when it comes down to kids, it’s everybody’s business to get involved.”
He said he never would have conducted the so-called experiment if he knew it would get him in trouble.
“The whole reason was for a good purpose, but now it seems like I’m a very bad guy,” he said.
He’s due in court on Friday.
[Photo: Norridge Police Department]