BEND, Ore. - (Update: Thursday's court appearance; bail raised, plea entry set)
A Deschutes County judge on Thursday raised the bail from $200,000 to $500,000 for a Bend babysitter accused of leaving seven young children alone in her home on numerous occasions to go to a gym or tanning salon.
Circuit Judge Beth Bagley also set an April 13 plea entry date for January Neatherlin, 31, who was arrested last week and arraigned Thursday on this week's grand jury indictment charging her 76 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and 38 counts of recklessly endangering another person.
About a dozen parents were in the courtroom for Thursday's court proceeding, the second in a way for Neatherlin, listed in court documents by her previous name, January Livsey.
“Neatherlin is alleged to have, on numerous occasions, left the two to seven kids in her care, who ranged in ages from 6 months to 4 years old, alone in her house when she went to the gym and tanning salon,” the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
“Nothing is more precious than the safety and security of our children,” District Attorney John Hummel said. “If the allegations against Ms. Neatherlin are proven in court, I will seek the maximum penalty authorized by law.”
Bail was previously set at Neatherlin’s first court appearance at $200,000. Neatherlin is presumed innocent until proven guilty, Hummel said, and has the opportunity to contest the allegations.
The charges in the 67-page indictment list dates of the alleged incidents between March 3 and March 15, the day of Neatherlin's arrest. She operated Little Giggles Daycare out of her home, online information showed.
Neatherlin's neighbors said Wednesday they had noticed her being absent from her home in the middle of the day, when she should have been caring for the children.
One said her car was almost never in the driveway, and another noticed there would be no footprints in the snow in front of her house for days. One of the neighbors went further than that.
"I can pick up on atmospheres a lot," Hope Howard said. "And it always had kind of a fishy one."
This is an ongoing investigation, the DA said, and if the public has any information about Neatherlin’s baby-sitting operation, they are encouraged to call the Bend Police Department at 541-693-6911. Neatherlin has also gone by the names January Livsey and January Brooks.
State records show Little Giggles Daycare was investigated twice since 2014 by state child welfare advocates.
In one case, she was found to be caring for more children than allowed without a license. She was told to drop her number to three or less children. The second case involved the same issue.