A Florida mom is facing charges after her 2nd grade daughter’s school reported her to social services, claiming that the child’s backpack contained “hundreds of bugs” that crawled out during lunchtime in the school cafeteria.
Pensacola News Journal reports that Jessica Stevenson, of Milton, is facing felony child neglect charges after the Department of Children and Families became involved, following reports from a staff member at Bagdad Elementary School, where her 9-year-old daughter attends school with three of her siblings.
According to court documents, the incident began on April 18 when a staff member at the school made a report to DCF concerning the little girl and her three siblings, prompting the agency to open an investigation. The staff member made the report after noticing the little girl wore the same clothes to school for an entire week. According to the report, the child’s body odor was so strong that it was “hard to miss.”
A mother in Milton arrested on 5 felony child neglect charges, we have a disturbing report from Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office detailing "filthy" conditions in this home. I spoke exclusively with the mother, hear what she has to say @weartv pic.twitter.com/WlzUBaV7wr
— Chorus Nylander WEAR (@CNylanderWEAR) May 7, 2019
The school gave the girl a new outfit to wear. According to ABC 3, the student’s old outfit had “caked on fecal matter and urine soaked in.” A teacher at the school told DCF that the new outfit was worn consistently, day after day, until it became soiled to the point the student needed more clothing. The school would then provide another outfit.
The girl, who couldn’t remember the last time she had a bath, also appeared depressed and began “having meltdowns,” according to her teacher.
When DCF visited the children’s home, they reportedly noted that all cabinets were empty of food. Inside the refrigerator, social services workers reportedly found spoiled milk, spoiled eggs, one stick of butter and some sugar. A microwave oven was hanging out of a window with the cord plugged inside, holding it from falling.
The entire house, aside from Stevenson’s bedroom, was completely filthy, the report read. Roaches and other bugs infested the home, which barely had any furniture, according to the report.
“The amount of neglect in this case is very disturbing,” Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille stated.
Stevenson, who has five children in total, was charged with five felony counts for each child.
“I’m not a bad mom, I do everything I can. I work hard,” Stevenson said to ABC 13, claiming DCF has been targeting her unfairly since she’s a single mom with little outside help.
“It’s not easy when you’re one person and five kids. I want to do better and I’m trying…..We have roaches; people all the time tell me everyone in Florida has roaches.”
Stevenson allowed ABC 13 reporters to enter her home after she made bail, following her arrest on the neglect charges. ABC 13 indicated that the reporters were met with a strong smell of urine upon walking into the residence. They also noticed roaches and other bugs scurrying about throughout the home.
All five children have been removed from the home. Stevenson, who can’t contact the children per judge’s orders, said she’s now fighting to get them back. She added that the criminal charges against her only makes things more difficult for her, since she earns a low wage.
Stevenson is reportedly considering filing a civil suit against the school district and the sheriff’s office.
If convicted of the felony charges, Stevenson could face up to 25 years in prison.
[Feature Photo: Jessica Stevenson/Police Handout]