COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio daycare owner was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail after accusations that she sexually abused young children. The sentence was part of a plea deal that victims' families have called disappointing and an injustice, according to local news reports.
Kimberly Hignite was accused of abusing at least five children while operating an unlicensed daycare out of her Grove City home.
Officers searched Hignite's home in May 2018 and reportedly found 24 children being watched only by Hignite's 71-year-old mother. The kids who were between the ages of 7 months and 5 years old were strapped into car seats and left unattended in separate rooms, according to police.
The mothers of five of the children testified in court Monday.
One mother testified that her daughter developed an anxiety-driven hair-pulling habit to the point that she was nearly bald, reports WBNS-TV.
Another mother alleged that her infant was left in her winter snowsuit all day, strapped in a car seat, causing her to come home sweating, dehydrated and hungry with diaper rashes that were bleeding and required a trip to the doctor.
Prosecutors said three children spoke of sexual touching and something called the "silly private game," the news station reports.
"A game that Miss Kim forced them to play using a tan and blue game board with pictures of private parts and a red spinner," testified one mother. "Your Honor, the sound of my autistic son and little girl being able to describe what that grown woman's vagina looks like and feels like is something we regrettably will never be able to forget, and honestly something that I can never forgive."
In a plea deal, prosecutors dropped gross sexual imposition charges against Hignite in exchange for her pleading guilty to 14 counts of child endangering.
Judge William Woods sentenced Hignite to 30 days in the Richland County Jail. She will have to pay for the cost of her incarceration, as well as a $4,200 fine.
Prosecutors told WBNS that the reason they dismissed some of the charges was because some alleged victims' families were not cooperating with the district attorney’s office.
Watch WBNS's report below:
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