Ponderay day care owner pleads not guilty to child injury charge
BONNER CO., Idaho — The former operator of a Ponderay day care has pleaded not guilty to a charge of injury to a child. According to court records, Dennis Ray McLeish entered his plea on March 27.
McLeish used to own and operate Little Fit Day Care inside of the Bonner Mall. In February, the Ponderay Police Department responded to the day care for a report of an unresponsive six-month-old child.
Immediate investigation revealed the infant has been injured while being cared for at the day care.
The facility’s license was suspended and closed by the State of Idaho.
McLeish disputed much of what Idaho child care officials accused his business of; he said the six-month-old never lost consciousness and was being supervised according to state standards.
McLeish told authorities the infant was in a room with five other children – four of them were under the age of two and one was under the age of three. McLeish said he left the children in a room and the door wide open as he helped a family check in.
“Me and those two adults were as close as five feet from that door and none of us heard that baby cry out,” said McLeish. “The two babies that attacked the other baby, they were under the age of two.”
McLeish claimed the children started biting and hitting the baby.
“I went over, picked him up, turned him over and his face and his hand were covered in blood. I panicked. It was horrific,” said McLeish.
The infant was hospitalized at the time of the event, but was later taken home to recover.
The Idaho Child Care Program said McLeish never reported the abuse to the Department of Health and Welfare. McLeish said he plans to appeal their decision.
“The horrible things that they’ve said about me, my staff and my business,” said McLeish. “They don’t understand that the day care going out of business isn’t a good thing — it hurts our community. We don’t have enough day cares here.”
McLeish said he has no plans to reopen the center, which serves low-income families.
McLeish’s not guilty plea clears the way for a future jury trial.
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