Former Tulsa Day Care Worker To Be Sentenced For Child Abuse

Monday, November 5th 2012, 11:24 am
By: News On 6

A former Tulsa daycare worker has pleaded no contest to two counts of child abuse.

Meredith Howard could face up to life in prison when she is sentenced in January.

The charges stem from two separate incidents, two years apart, at two different daycare centers.

A plea of no contest is not an admission of guilt, but it is treated as a guilty verdict by the court.

Howard's supporters huddled around her outside the courtroom and declined to comment.

Just moments earlier, Howard pleaded no contest to two counts of child abuse.

"We are pleased. This has been a very long journey for the two families of the two victims involved in these cases, so we're glad that they don't have to go through the trauma of a trial," said Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis.

9/25/2012 Related Story: Recordings Of Daycare Worker Charged With Child Abuse Allowed In Evidence

The first incident took place in December 2008 at Kirk of the Hills church.

Investigators say Howard broke the leg of an 8-month-old boy during a Mother's Day Out program.

The second case happened in November 2010, while Howard worked at the John Knox Child Development Center.

She is accused of penetrating a 19-month-old girl, causing significant injuries that led to the girl having surgery.

"It is unfortunate that after she was involved in the first act of abuse that she was allowed to continue in the capacity of the daycare and, perhaps, a better look should have been taken by her employers at that time," McAmis said.

The current director of the John Knox Center declined to comment on Howard's plea and hung up the phone when asked if the center had changed its hiring policy in light of her charges.

Howard could face anywhere from one year in county jail to life in prison.

Her defense has argued in the past that she suffers from psychological and emotional issues.

One psychologist reported that she is emotionally immature and sometimes functions as an 8- or 9-year-old instead of someone who is 40 years old.

Prosecutors won't say if that will weigh in their sentencing request, but previous court records show that prosecutors believe she has an average IQ and that she has shown the ability to determine right from wrong.

In addition to time in jail, Howard also faces several thousands of dollars in fines.

She'll be sentenced on January 29, 2013.

Read the police affidavit