Karen Corcoran Walsh, 51, the owner of a well known Fort Lauderdale based teen rehabilitation program was jailed on Thursday on a child cruelty charge.
Walsh runs the Inspirations for Youth and Families program with her husband and the couple gained prominence after appearing on the Dr. Phil Show.
But this week she is accused of leaving an 11-year-old child, her step daughter home alone last week. According to a Boca Raton police report, the girl became scared after finding herself on her own and so she walked barefoot to the neighborhood's guardhouse in her gated community.
According to the Sun Sentinel the guard called Walsh who refused to pick the child up, telling him to call her father instead, the report said.
After that, the officer couldn't reach her on her cell. Her husband Christopher Walsh had reportedly left earlier in the evening because she locked him out of the house. He had checked into a hotel and didn't have a working cellphone, according to the police report.
On Friday Walsh told the Sun Sentinel she had been wrongfully arrested. She has no parental rights to the child, who is Christopher Walsh's daughter, she said. She told the press she and her husband had an argument and she left the house because she was afraid. Christopher Walsh stayed at the house with his daughter and left after she was already out the door, she said.
'There was no wrongdoing on my part, and I would really like my name to be cleared,' Walsh said. 'I did the best that I could in this situation and that's it. Unfortunately, I feel that the investigation was not thorough and had they given it its due time, they would have found that there was no wrongdoing on my part.'
Walsh has no prior criminal record.
Walsh has worked with children for nearly 18 years according to the biography on her program's website. She is a registered marriage and family therapist, state records show. She and her husband also own the Cove Center for Recovery, an adult therapy program in Fort Lauderdale.
Walsh's attorney Leah Mayersohn told the press she's working with the police to resolve the issue and have the charges dropped.
'Why they arrested Karen is absolutely beyond me,' Mayersohn said. 'She certainly extricated herself from a situation that could potentially have been escalating, which was the right thing to do under those circumstances.'
The child was left alone in a safe gated community for 20 minutes or less, Mayersohn said, and husband and wife each thought the girl was with the other.
Walsh's arrest is unfortunate, Mayersohn added, especially because of the business she's in. 'She provides very valuable services to children and to adults in Florida who have suffered these issues,' she said, 'and this is a really terrible accusation.'