By Ed Treleven, The Wisconsin State Journal
Jul. 16–It ‘s been nine months since a former Sun Prairie day-care worker was charged with abusing a toddler, but on Tuesday she finally faced a preliminary hearing in the case and was ordered to stand trial.
Sara Kladehall, 20, of Portage, will stand trial on charges of first-degree reckless injury and three counts of child abuse for allegedly abusing an 18-month-old girl in December 2006 and January 2007 at the Rock-A-Bye Child Care Learning Center, where she worked as a lead day-care provider.
Some of the alleged abuse was caught on videotape by a system the center uses to monitor the performance of its employees. The last alleged incident was on Jan 24, 2007, when Kladehall allegedly swaddled the girl in a blanket, set her face-down on the floor and pressed herself onto the girl ‘s upper torso.
The girl ‘s heart stopped beating, she stopped breathing and turned blue. She was given CPR by former worker Lindsey Anderson, 21, of DeForest, who was assigned to the girl ‘s care at the center.
Anderson was ultimately charged with felony child abuse. Under a May plea agreement, Anderson pleaded guilty to three counts of child neglect and was placed in a first-offenders program.
In court Tuesday, Anderson testified that she witnessed Kladehall abuse the girl on several occasions, including instances where she swaddled the girl tightly in a blanket, placed weight on the girl ‘s torso and set a beanbag chair on top of the girl while she was swaddled.
Anderson admitted to having done some of those things, but testified that she never put any weight on the girl ‘s torso, only on her buttocks, to hold her down. She said the girl ‘s parents suggested swaddling her or placing some weight on her if she would not sleep during nap time.
On Jan. 24, 2007, Anderson said, she was on a lunch break and saw Kladehall with her arm over the girl ‘s torso while the girl rested on her stomach. After a time, she testified, Kladehall said, “Oh my God, Lindsey, she ‘s not breathing, ” and went to get help. Anderson said the girl ‘s face and lips were purple.
Sun Prairie police Officer Zach Bolling, who arrived before an EMS crew, said the girl was conscious and breathing by the time he got there, but said her response appeared slow. When she looked around, he said, “she looked through you and not at you. “
Assistant District Attorney Shelly Rusch has said the delay in the case involved a problem with the videotape, which had to be meticulously time-corrected to compensate for the camera not being set up to shoot continuous video. The video was not shown at Tuesday ‘s hearing.
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