Former child-care worker pleads no contest in abuse
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Monday, November 05, 2012
11/05/12 at 11:55 AM
A former Tulsa child-care worker pleaded no contest Monday to two charges of abusing two small children at separate locations.
Meredith Allison Howard, 40, will be sentenced Jan. 29 by Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough on charges of child abuse by injury.
Howard has no agreement with the District Attorney’s Office regarding her sentence.
One case is linked to an injury that prosecutors contend was inflicted on an 8-month-old boy on Dec. 8, 2008, at a day care affiliated with Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church, 4102 E. 61st St.
Howard is accused of breaking the thigh bone of that child.
A Tulsa police detective testified previously that when he questioned Howard, she said she was frustrated because that baby “would not stop crying.”
The detective said Howard indicated she thought she had broken the child’s leg when she forcefully put him down.
The other case involves an accusation that Howard inserted her finger into the vagina of a 19-month-old girl in November 2010 at the John Knox Child Development Center. Howard was a teacher’s assistant at the center, operated by the John Knox Presbyterian Church, 2929 E. 31st St.
A police officer testified at a preliminary hearing that when questioned, Howard indicated that she accidentally inserted a finger into the child’s vagina while in the process of a diaper change.
A pediatrician said that the girl’s extensive injury was “likely inflicted trauma,” and determined that surgery was necessary, according to police.
Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis indicated that the judge will get input from the victims’ families at the sentencing proceeding.
At that hearing, defense attorney Allen Smallwood will have the opportunity to present mitigating evidence on behalf of Howard.
In the case involving the Kirk of the Hills’ Mothers’ Day Out program, an assistant district attorney decided in 2009 not to file a charge.
Prosecutors filed both charges of child abuse on Nov. 9, 2010, after the allegations involving the John Knox center surfaced. Howard had worked at that center for about a year as of November 2010, according to testimony.
Howard has been free on bond, and Kellough allowed her to remain out of jail while she awaits sentencing.
Meredith Allison Howard