Former Tulsa church child-care worker sentenced in abuse case
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 6:03 AM
A former Tulsa church child-care worker was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison on charges of abusing two children in crimes that were separated by nearly two years.
Meredith Howard, 40, of Tulsa pleaded no contest Nov. 5 to two charges of child abuse by injury.
Howard, who waived her right to a trial, had no agreement with prosecutors regarding her sentence.
District Judge William Kellough found her guilty and imposed a split 15-year term, with Howard required to spend three years on probation after completing her prison term.
Kellough agreed to review the sentence in December, at which time he could modify it or leave it intact.
Kellough announced his sentence in an emotion-filled courtroom crowded with supporters on both sides of the case. Parents made pleas for justice for their children, but Howard did not address the court.
A Department of Corrections sentencing report says Howard has been diagnosed with a developmental disorder and that testing placed her intellectual abilities within the "low dull normal range."
Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said the no-contest pleas show that Howard has not accepted responsibility. McAmis and parents of the victims said they were pleased with the sentence.
Howard has been free on bond. Kellough allowed her to stay out of custody until Feb. 25, when she is to be transported to prison.
In one case, Howard was charged with injuring an 8-month-old boy Dec. 8, 2008, at a day care affiliated with Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian, 4102 E. 61st St. She was charged with using unreasonable force and breaking his thigh bone.
In the other case, Howard was accused of inserting her finger into the vagina of a 19-month-old girl in November 2010 at the John Knox Child Development Center, operated by John Knox Presbyterian Church, 2929 E. 31st St. Howard was a teacher's assistant.
A police officer testified at a preliminary hearing that when questioned, Howard said she accidentally inserted a finger into the girl's vagina while changing her diaper. A pediatrician said the girl's injuries were severe and required surgery.
In the Kirk of the Hills' Mothers Day Out program case, the District Attorney's Office decided in 2009 not to file a charge. Both child-abuse charges were filed Nov. 9, 2010, after the second case surfaced.
Original Print Headline: Ex-child-care worker sentenced
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Meredith Howard: The judge found her guilty and imposed a split 15-year term, with three years on probation after the prison term is complete