Lawrence County prosecutors dropped a criminal charge Wednesday against a Marionville teacher who had been accused of physically abusing a 4-year-old child on the school playground.
It has been a roller-coaster week for the state of Missouri versus 42-year-old Kimberly Daniels.
Daniels had been charged back in September with abuse of a child and hindering the prosecution of a felony in connection with the June encounter with the 4-year-old.
Both of those charges were dismissed Monday by Judge Robert George following a preliminary hearing in Lawrence County.
The next day, Tuesday, prosecutors filed a new child abuse charge against Daniels for the same incident.
And then on Wednesday morning, prosecutors dropped that new charge.
Daniels’ attorney Stacie Bilyeu said it has been a stressful week for Daniels, but she was relieved to apparently have this matter resolved.Â
“She is relieved that it is over,” Bilyeu said.Â “She is relieved to put it behind her. Sheâs looking forward to getting back into the classroom so that she can teach children, which is something that she loves to do.”
Daniels was placed on paid administrative leave following a JuneÂ incident where she took a 4-year-old boy by the arm and led him away from a kickball game.
Prosecutors had alleged Daniels’ behavior was abusive and that she injured the boy. Bilyeu argued that Daniels was following her training and fulfilling her duties to takeÂ the defiant child away from a situation where he could have harmed himself or others.
During Monday’s hearing, Bilyeu pointed out the alleged victim told authorities Daniels had done nothing to him, several teachers who witnessed the incident did not report any wrongdoing, and a Children’s Division employee who thoroughlyÂ investigated the case found that allegations of abuse against Daniels were “unsubstantiated.”
In her closing arguments Monday, Bilyeu called the criminal case a “farce.”
The main evidence presented by the state on Monday was a recorded interview with the alleged victim’s older sister who was present when the incident occurred. She told authorities Daniels grabbed her brother and dragged him out of the kickball line at recess.
Also, the boy’s father â a law enforcement officer in Greene County â noticed bruises on the boy’s arm on the night of the incident that he said appeared to have been caused by someone’s hand grabbing the boy. The Children’s Division investigator said it’s not uncommon for children to suffer bruises when they are being escorted by adults out of a potentially dangerous situation.
Bilyeu said Wednesday she did not want to speculate as to why Lawrence County prosecutors chose to charge her client again after a judge had just dismissed the case, only to drop the charges the very next day.
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Bilyeu said Wednesday’s dismissal of charges by the state was not the result of any agreement being reached with her client.
A phone message left Wednesday afternoon for Lawrence County Prosecutor Don Trotter was not immediately returned.
The child abuse charge filed and then dropped this week is a Class D felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
One issue with the state’s initial case is that prosecutors had charged Daniels with a form of child abuse that called for them to proveÂ she inflicted “serious emotional injury” on the child, which would have required evidence from a trained medical professional. The assistant Lawrence County prosecutor handling the caseÂ admitted during Monday’s hearing he thought Daniels had been charged with a different variation of child abuseÂ involving physical harm. The second case, which was filed and dropped this week, charged Daniels with causing physical harm to the boy.
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