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January Neatherlin, 32, was sentenced by a Deschutes County judge on Friday. Neatherlin pleaded guilty to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third-degree assault in February, according to court records. She was arrested last year after police found seven children, ages 5 and younger, left unattended at her Little Giggles Daycare Center, The Bulletin reported.
“There is something broken and something missing in you,” Deschutes County Circuit Judge Wells Ashby told Neatherlin. “It is this court’s hope that you are able to find it or reconstruct it, and make yourself whole at some point.”
Bend police, based on tips provided by a former boyfriend and a former roommate, observed Neatherlin last March and saw her leave the house twice while she was supposed to be watching the children under her care, the Oregonian reported.
She drove her children to school on the first trip. On the second, police found her at a local Tan Republic.
The children who had been left in her care during those excursions had the sleep aid melatonin in their systems, according to a sentencing memo.
Neatherlin had been telling parents they couldn't pick up or drop off their kids between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Oregonian reported. Police checked Cross Fit and Tan Republic records and found that was when she would leave the house, hours she referred to as "nap time."
Statements from Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Kandy Gies and concerned family members revealed that Neatherlin had sent a child to a Portland-area hospital with multiple head injuries, and admitted to causing burns on a young child by overheating a bottle of milk. Parents accused Neatherlin of everything from disrupting children’s sleep cycles to striking them.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the defendant; I don’t know what could bring a person to do what she’s done to the most helpless and innocent people in our society,” said Les Adams, the grandfather of one of the children. “But I hope she can understand that she damn near killed the easiest, happiest, most easygoing baby I’ve ever known in my life.”
Before she was sentenced, Neatherlin addressed the court and apologized to the parents, grandparents and children in attendance, the Bulletin reported.
“I loved all my day care kids as my own, and I believe they loved me and enjoyed hanging out with me during the week,” she said. “But I failed you all. I let you all down.”