COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A Colorado day care provider has been convicted of child abuse charges related to concealing 26 children behind a false wall in a basement.
Police checking out reports of overcrowding at Play Mountain Place in Colorado Springs Nov. 13, 2019 said they found the children — all under the age of 3 — in a basement behind a false wall, along with two adults, Law Officer reported.
When officers showed up, Carla Marie Faith had claimed there was no basement and that children were away at a park, according to court documents.
However, police later found a false wall that led to a finished basement. Behind the wall they located the children along with additional day care workers. Most of the toddlers were dehydrated and in dirty diapers, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Faith faced 26 counts of misdemeanor child abuse, a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant and another misdemeanor of running a child care facility without a license. The jury convicted her Thursday. As a result, she could see up to 6 years in prison for her crimes, Fox News reported.
She will be sentenced at a later unspecified date.
The Colorado Department of Human Services proceeded to shut down three day cares associated with Faith during the course of the investigation, The Gazette reported.
“It’s all on behalf of every single one of these people here today,” District Attorney Michael Allen said following the decision. “They deserve justice, and I think that this gives them a sense of justice.”
Allen discussed the violation of trust that parents placed in the day care facility.
“Having the kids locked in the basement at a place that they were taking their kids to for care. Someplace they trusted and felt like they were getting the care that they were expecting to achieve,” Allen said. “These kids were put into danger.”
Three additional employees were arrested during the investigation, Law Officer reported.
Christina Swauger, was also convicted by the jury of 26 counts child abuse, one for each child found in the basement, according to The Gazette.
Katelynne Nelson was charged with unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance, a felony, and misdemeanor child abuse. The status of her case was unclear.
Valerie Fresquez was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. The status of her case was unclear.
According to The Gazette, “another employee of the day care did not appear in court, and a no-bond warrant has been issued for her, the DA’s office said. When she is arrested, she too will go to trial.” However, it was unclear if the warrant was issued for Nelson or Fresquez.
A parent of one of the children said she was thrilled with the verdict, but that it will still take time to heal.
“It’s going to take help, for our kids especially, to move on after the trauma that they’ve gone through,” Vanessa Nagel said.