Mother demands justice after dismissal of daycare director’s child abuse case
WOODSTOCK, Va. (WHSV) - A mother in Harrisonburg is demanding justice after a Shenandoah County child abuse case was dropped earlier this week.
On Monday, a Shenandoah County Circuit Court Judge dismissed charges against Jamie Pence, the former director of Pollywog Place, a daycare center in Woodstock.
“My daughter was going to Pollywog, and we got a notice from the school that there was an investigation of child abuse. A couple of months went by, and then I got a call from Virginia State Police saying that my daughter was one of the ones who was abused,” said Katie Thompson, whose daughter was 14 months old at the time of the alleged abuse.
In January 2020, Jamie Pence and her former employee Katie LeDane were arrested for child abuse at the daycare center. Pence was facing a felony child endangerment charge and a misdemeanor for failing to report child abuse.
According to online court records, Katie LeDane was initially charged with four felony counts of child endangerment and two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery. However, a plea deal that was reached last year reduced LeDane’s four felony charges to misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The deal was made in exchange for LeDane to testify against Pence during a jury trial that was originally scheduled for this week.
“Her abuse was proven. It was on video. There was extensive evidence of her abuse toward my child and other children at the school, and she was let off for this plea deal, all for nothing,” said Thompson. “That’s really upsetting that a known child abuser gets off so easily without any sort of real punishment. It doesn’t feel right.”
Pence’s jury trial was scheduled to begin on Monday, but online court records show the case was concluded by Nolle Prosequi, meaning the prosecutor, Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley, motioned to dismiss the case and the judge granted the motion.
“To have this be dragged out for three years and to not feel like justice was served or have closure, it’s been really hard,” said Thompson. “This has been a really big source of pain and stress for my family. It did happen, and it just didn’t feel right to let it go and not say something.”
Thompson said she felt that her family was left out of the loop throughout the court process and said the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office never connected them with the families of the other victims.
“I was shocked to hear on Monday that the charges for the director had been dropped without consulting the families, without letting us know in advance. I had taken off work to show up and be there (at the trial) and the ball definitely got dropped,” she said.
Thompson hopes that bringing attention to what happened will help justice find a way.
“I’m hoping that at least if we’re speaking about it, it will be taken seriously, and maybe the folks in power will think twice about speaking with victims’ families a little better. I’m speaking up and advocating for my child because justice was not served,” she said.
Because the case against Pence was concluded by Nolle Prosequi, the Commonwealth can still bring back the charges against her at any time. Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley could not be reached for comment on Friday despite multiple attempts being made.
Katie LeDane will be back in court on Oct. 6. It is unclear what impact the dismissal of Pence’s case will have on LeDane’s.
Copyright 2022 WHSV. All rights reserved.