An Oregon day care owner who drugged the kids in her care with melatonin so she could go tanning and do CrossFit learned her fate Friday.
A Deschutes County judge sentenced January Neatherlin, of Bend, to 21 years and 4 months in prison weeks after she pleaded guilty to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third-degree assault. Neatherlin, who illegally operated the day care Little Giggles, was also accused of burning a baby with hot milk and violently shaking one of the children in her care, according to The Bend Bulletin.
“There is something broken and something missing in you,” Deschutes County Circuit Judge Wells Ashby reportedly told Neatherlin, 32. “It is this court’s hope that you are able to find it or reconstruct it, and make yourself whole at some point.”
The Oregonian reported that the Neatherlin also lied to the children’s parents about being a registered nurse.
The Bend woman was arrested after her former boyfriend and roommate alerted police. At the time, police watched the day care owner and saw her leave the home twice when she was supposed to be watching seven children.
The first time, police witnessed Neatherlin drop her kids off at school. The second time she was spotted at a local Tan Republic, according to the newspaper.
It was discovered that the children had melatonin, a sleep aid, in their systems when Neatherlin would take these outings.
Neatherlin claimed in court that an 11-month-old baby had fallen out of their chair, leading to bleeding and swelling in the head. However, prosecutors claimed the January 2014 injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, KTVZ reported.
In fact, the child was placed into foster care for seven months as child welfare investigators believed her parents were the abusers. The girl’s father testified that the injuries came to light after they picked her up and she was groggy and nauseous. While at the hospital, a doctor informed them that the girl had brain bleeding and previous injuries.
“There is a pattern with you of lying repeatedly, of repeatedly putting children at risk,” the judge said to Neatherlin.
Prosecutors had pushed for a 35-year sentence. In court documents, the state wrote that Neatherlin had an “on-going, systematic scheme of doing what she wanted and getting what she wanted, without any concern for the danger she was placing others in.”
In addition to operating an illegal day care for four years, Neatherlin had a history of theft dating back to 2007. While incarcerated on the latest round of charges, the 32-year-old allegedly asked other inmates to claim that they worked for her. She also asked them to bail her out of jail, offering to repay them from lucrative offshore accounts, according to court documents.
“I have a lot of demons to face. I have a lot of things pushed down inside of me that I was scared to face,” Neatherlin said through tears. “I lost a part of me long ago, and I haven’t been the same since. I lost all focus on what was right from wrong, thinking things through before doing them.”
“I failed you all. I let you all down. I let all of you down that trusted me, and no one is at fault but me. I know you may never forgive me, but I ask you consider it.”
[Feature Photo: January Neatherlin/Deschutes County Adult Jail]