A Lewiston woman was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years probation Tuesday after a 6-month-old boy was seriously injured while in her care.
Jennifer Allen, 42, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor injury to a child, reduced from felony injury to a child. Nez Perce County Magistrate Judge Kent Merica suspended 150 days of a 180-day jail sentence and ordered Allen not to babysit nonbiological children during her probation.
Allen was caring for the infant, listed only as L.D.W. in court documents, at her in-home day care on 15th Avenue in October. The boy had no health issues prior to being dropped off at around 8 a.m. When the boy’s mother returned to pick him up that afternoon, his head was “misshapen,” he had red splotches on his face and screamed when his head was touched.
At the sentencing Tuesday, the boy’s mother said she has had panic attacks and experiences severe anxiety every time she leaves her children to go to work. She said she trusts no one to watch her son.
“I’m scared if he falls, if he bumps his head that it will hurt his fractures,” she said. “Or if he’ll have learning disabilities in the future that I just don’t know about today.”
At St. Joseph Regional Medical Center it was discovered the boy sustained hematoma and a bilateral skull fracture to the back of his head. He was treated and later released with no long-term injuries expected.
Allen initially told the boy’s mother she didn’t notice the injury. She later told investigators she wasn’t present, but found the boy on the ground after leaving him unattended and assumed he fell from a child’s swing. She reported she kept the child awake for several hours, thinking he sustained a concussion, but did not take him to get treatment. She told investigators she found the boy’s mother “intimidating” and didn’t report the injury. Allen was watching over two other children at her home at the time and neither had injuries.
The Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office recommended a 60-day jail term. Allen’s attorney, Rick Cuddihy, said Allen had no intent to hurt the boy and she has cared for hundreds of children without incident.
Allen chose not to speak at her sentencing.
Allen had no criminal record aside from traffic infractions prior to this charge. Merica granted a withheld judgment, meaning if Allen completes probation, the charge could be dismissed.
Merica allowed Allen to self-report to jail by Friday. He ordered she pay $257.50 in fines and costs as well as $3,275.21 to Regence Blue Shield of Idaho for the child’s hospital bill.
Holm may be contacted at (208) 848-2275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomHolm4.