Day-care provider, a suspect in past Child Abuse, charged in 2nd case
SPRINGFIELD, MO – An unlicensed day-care provider was charged Monday with two felony counts of child abuse.
One charge stems from a 2013 incident in which a 5-month-old suffered a skull fracture. Three years later, before being charged in the 2013 incident, the woman allegedly hurt another baby, causing a skull fracture and brain bleed.
Rachel Slawson, 34, was arrested Monday afternoon and held in lieu of $25,000 bail. According to the felony complaint, she is charged with the child abuse after police say a child left in her care suffered a head injury in September of 2013. The News-Leader reported about that incident at the time, but police investigators did not send the case to the prosecutor until June of 2016.
In the meantime, Slawson moved her in-home day care facility out of city limits into the county and another child is suspected of being injured. Slawson is charged with another count of child abuse after a doctor said a child in her care was likely shaken in July of 2016.
According to the probable cause statement in that case, Slawson had used her phone to search the internet for topics such as “how to stop stressing when a baby is crying,” “why do I get so mad when my baby cries,” “symptoms of infant concussion” and “shaken baby syndrome.”
Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Wan had just begun reviewing the 2013 case when she learned of the July 2016 incident.
It is not yet clear why almost three years passed before Springfield police submitted a case to prosecutors. A News-Leader request for comment from a police spokesperson was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Patterson did say that some of the evidence in the 2016 investigation helps show the 2013 incident was not an accident and that in some head injury cases, it can be difficult to determine who or what caused the injuries.
This is not the first time Slawson’s name has come across the prosecutor’s and investigators’ desks. In June of 2013, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services sent a letter to the prosecutor’s office, detailing incidents in which Slawson reportedly had more than four unrelated children in her care, Missouri’s limit for unlicensed care providers.
According to that letter, a Springfield police officer observed 19 children in her care in June of 2013. Later, a Missouri child care facility specialist conducted an unannounced inspection and found eight children. In August of 2013, that same specialist conducted another unannounced follow-up inspection and found seven children, six of which were unrelated.
Patterson said no charges were filed against Slawson for having too many children at her day care because she came into compliance by reducing the number of children.
According to sheriff’s office records, Slawson was also investigated for child neglect in 2007 and for child abuse in 2009. In both cases, Children’s Division also investigated but it does not appear charges were filed.