Jurors convicted a daycare owner of hiding 26 toddlers behind a false wall leading to a basement.
As indicated in body cam footage prosecutors played in court, officers found the hideout after Carla Marie Faith lied to them about caring for any child, according to KRDO. Faith’s defense argued at trial in Colorado Springs, Colorado that the state did not prove she hurt any of the kids. The prosecution maintained that none of the children had to be hurt to justify the 26 counts of misdemeanor child abuse; there just had to be a risk of physical or mental injury.
The jury believed authorities. Accordingly, they found Faith guilty of the child abuse charges as well as one count of influencing a peace officer, and three counts of operating a daycare without a license. They also convicted Faith employee and co-defendant Christina Swauger of 26 counts of misdemeanor child abuse, and a count each of attempting to influence a public servant, and obstructing a peace officer. Body-cam footage reportedly showed her lying to cops by saying she was not an employee, just a friend. Prosecutors said this supported the conviction of the attempted influence charge.
Faith’s defense maintained that the prosecution overcharged. She should have instead been convicted only for operating an unlicensed daycare, and obstructing a peace officer.
Body cam video reportedly showed Faith lying to cops, saying at first that she was not taking care of any children, then asserting they were at a park. After officers found backpacks under blankets, she claimed she was cleaning these for a local soccer team. Investigators ultimately found 25 children behind a false wall leading to the basement. The 26th child abuse charge was for a toddler picked up by parents when police arrived at the scene.
Authorities closed three daycares linked to Faith, according to The Colorado Gazette.
“This case just speaks to somebody that wanted to put profits over children and safety of children,” said 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen (R). “And the jury was strong and the judge was very strong in saying that’s not how we operate in Colorado Springs, and that’s a relief.”
“It’s going to take help, for our kids especially, to move on after the trauma that they’ve gone through,” said Vanessa Nagel, one of the parents.
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 21.
A misdemeanor child abuse case against Faith employee Katelynn Nelson is reportedly pending. Former Faith employee Valerie Fresquez, who testified at the trial that she often cared for seven to nine children alone but said she thought the daycare was safe, took a plea deal that is set for the court to dismiss charges.
[Screenshot of Faith via KOAA]
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