DA’S OFFER to WOMACK A ‘SLAP IN THE FACE’ RAY SAYS
By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE-A director-qualified Childcare worker’s decision to give adult doses of Melatonin to more than 35 children at a local childcare center in October of 2014 may result in no jail time, according to a Feb. 25 Memorandum of Offered Disposition that has sparked outrage from the former owner of Hug-A-Bear Childcare and Learning Center, Patty Ray.
If the offer is accepted, Dedrie Womack, who had been employed by Hug-A-Bear since it opened its doors more than seven years ago, would plead to one count of Child Abuse, Knowingly-No Injury. Womack was arrested Oct. 22, 2014 after a co-worker reported the incident to Ray, who was out of town at the time. Ray immediately called police.
“It took me out,” said Ray, who added that losing Womack and two other key staff members left her unable to staff her business, which closed last month. “I lost my first and second in command, and a top aide.”
The offer that Womack received from the 7th Judicial District DA’s Office Feb. 25 contains the following terms: Supervised probation, length open; Pre-Sentence Investigation Report; No jail; Apology letters to each victim’s family, content to be approved by Probation; All other terms open; Restitution. The offer expires on the setting of motions hearing or trial.
“For me, this is a new beginning,” Ray said. “I will recover. But this incident has affected the trust of these parents in childcare centers in Montrose. It displaced students, caused them emotional hardship, and caused financial hardship for their parents. I keep hearing that ‘no child was harmed,’ but they really don’t know—these children will have a hard time trusting their new teachers, and who can say whether a seizure that one child suffered shortly afterwards was not caused by this? These children were given adult doses, without permission.
“It was child abuse, outright,” Ray said. “Deedee worked for me seven years; she was director-qualified and she did this knowingly to 35 students. I am heartbroken that the District Attorney thinks this is an ok offer—I am shocked.”
Calls to the Seventh Judicial District District Attorney’s office regarding the matter have not yet been returned.