By Nick Janes

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A 4-year-old was spotted on a south Sacramento street corner half a mile away from home — barefoot and wearing clothes police say were soaked in urine.

When an officer took her home, he found four other children alone inside.

The children’s father admits he messed up but still insists he’s a good father.

“Great father, great father, single father of five,” Charles Sweeting told CBS13’s Nick Janes on Tuesday after the 32-year-old’s children were returned from Child Protective Services.

“It was a mistake absolutely,” he said. “I probably just should’ve taken them with me.”

Charles ran an errand to church Sunday morning, leaving his children ages 10, 8, 4, 3 and 2 home alone. He meant to come back and pick them up in less than an hour.

But 4-year-old Gabby slipped out, running barefoot from the mobile home down the street.

“Were your 4-year-old’s clothes soaked in urine, as police told us?” Janes asked Sweeting.

“Absolutely not, no,” he said.

“Why would they say that?”

“I don’t know. The report was so far-fetched compared to what it was.”

The way police tell it CPS was alerted because the place was in disarray: the stove left on, no sheets on the beds or much food in the cupboards.

But Charles says none of it’s true.

“No, I have a year’s supply of food in the house,” he said.

CPS returned his children Sunday hours after taking them away. This single father of five now promises he won’t let them out of his sight again.

“That was the biggest deal. She could’ve been taken, anything could’ve happened,” he said of Gabby getting out of the home.

Still, he says he deserves to keep custody of his kids.

“Absolutely. It was a mistake. Mistakes happen. It won’t happen again,” he said.

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