A 32-year-old woman who abandoned young children — some just six months old — at her illegal day care in Bend, Oregon, to go tanning and to go do CrossFit has been sentenced to 21 years, four months in prison.
January Neatherlin was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in February to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and a count of third-degree assault.
Neatherlin was arrested last year after police found seven children younger than five left unattended at her center called Little Giggles.
Authorities said she forced the children to take melatonin to induce sleep before heading out to work on her self-care.
“She repeatedly administered a sleeping agent to a room full of infants, toddlers and children and drove off in her car to fulfill her narcissistic needs. There is no room in our society for monsters like this. January has no respect for human life,” one parent said, according to KTVZ.
According to KTVZ, Judge Wells Ashby highlighted the destruction Neatherlin’s actions caused the families. Ashby said the aftermath of her crimes led to broken relationships, behavioral problems and financial struggles.
One family said their daughter suffered a brain injury, consistent with shaken baby syndrome, while in Neatherlin’s care; other parents said their children were struggling to sleep after Neatherlin fed them the drug, according to KTVZ.
Neatherlin had been running the illegal childcare operation for about four years, and she also lied to parents about being a registered nurse, but had no such qualifications, according to The Oregonian.
State records showed the business was investigated twice since 2014 by state child welfare advocates.
Based on tips provided by a former boyfriend and a former roommate, Bend police watched Neatherlin last March leave the center twice while she was supposed to be watching seven children, according to The Oregonian.
Neatherlin had been telling parents they weren’t allowed to pick up or drop off their kids between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; police checked CrossFit and Tan Republic records to discover those hours she referred to as nap time is when she would leave the center, according to The Oregonian.
In court Neatherlin apologized, telling families that she had failed them and let them down.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody takes responsibility for those mistakes. With that said, I hope the court and the parents accept my apology. I made a very poor call, and it has forever changed my life and even ended it,” Neatherlin said, according to KTVZ.
The other counts of criminal mistreatment are for previous incidents with children.
Neatherlin has prior felony identity-theft convictions under the names January Livsey and January Brooks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.