Daycare owner gets 21 years for drugging kids to go tanning

Posted at 10:38 AM, Mar 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-11 06:40:08-04

BEND, OR (KTVZ/CNN) – After nearly one dozen parents testified against her, a daycare owner who drugged numerous children on melatonin then left them alone to go for a tan or exercise was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison.

It was an emotional day in court Friday, as parents faced January Neatherlin, whom the parents had trusted with their children, and told the judge why she deserved a full sentence.

One family said their daughter suffered a brain injury, consistent with shaken baby syndrome, while in Neatherlin’s care.

Other parents told stories of their children struggling to sleep after their time with Neatherlin, who fed them melatonin while she went tanning and to the gym.

"She repeatedly administered a sleeping agent to a room full of infants, toddlers and children and drove off in her car to fulfill her narcissistic needs. There is no room in our society for monsters like this. January has no respect for human life,” one parent said.

Prosecutors, who asked for a 35-year prison term, called Neatherlin’s crimes more than just criminal mistreatment, saying the daycare owner had a history of criminal activity.

Neatherlin read a statement in court, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. She also said she had failed as a caretaker and as a parent to her own children.

"Everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody takes responsibility for those mistakes. With that said, I hope the court and the parents accept my apology. I made a very poor call, and it has forever changed my life and even ended it,” she said.

When handing down the sentence, Judge Wells Ashby highlighted the carnage Neatherlin had caused for the families, noting several were still dealing with the aftermath, including broken relationships, behavioral problems and financial struggles.

Ashby sentenced Neatherlin to 31 months on each of 12 counts she pleaded guilty to last month. These included 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third-degree assault.

In total, Neatherlin was sentenced to 21 years and four months in prison. She will be able to receive credit for time served.

Some parents spoke out about the sentence outside the courtroom.

"I'm glad there is some kind of closure. It’s going to be tough, but we'll make it through and I think justice was served. I think the judge was right on with fully understanding the extent of the charges and making a judgment that will hopefully make somebody like that think twice if they make it out,” Kevin Hord said.

The sentencing hearing came nearly one year after police investigators found seven children under 5 drugged and unattended at Neatherlin’s unlicensed Little Giggles Day Care while she was at a tanning salon.

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