“Not Guilty”. That was the verdict reached in the trial of Amy Lovato, the Executive Director of the Chaffee Childcare Initiative, the nonprofit that ran The Schoolhouse childcare facility in Poncha Springs.
Lovato was charged with two misdemeanors: failure to report child abuse or neglect and with knowingly placing a child in a situation that posed a threat to injury. The charges stem from a January investigation involving a young child’s actions toward classmates at The Schoolhouse.
After the two-day trial, the jury of four men and two women returned a verdict of not guilty on both misdemeanor counts.
Lovato’s attorney Jason Flores-Williams told the jury that Lovato was innocent of the charge of failure to immediately report because of “the Court of Appeals has already held that the term ‘immediately’ is ambiguous, and so the statute is unconstitutionally vague.”
As to the charge of knowingly placing a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury, Flores-Williams said “no reasonable person could find her guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Ms. Lovato, who has devoted her career to providing childcare to the Salida community, is being charged with child neglect—the most damaging reputational accusation that a person in her position can endure—because one preschooler pulled down the pants of another preschooler at her day care center called The Schoolhouse, an innocent act that occurs in pre-schools every day across the country.”
The jury agreed.
Roberta Rodriguez, the former Site Director of The Schoolhouse daycare facility, originally faced the same charges but the child abuse case has been dropped. Rodriquez will go to trial at a later date on the single charge of failure to report.
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