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Former Springetts day-care operator avoids prison, left 6 kids alone
A former Springettsbury Township day-care operator has avoided prison for leaving six young children — including an infant — alone while she picked up more kids from preschool, but her plea agreement forbids her from working in the industry for the next five years.
Caught red-handed in November, Gina Marie Henry lied to a parent of one of the children and to a township police officer by claiming her "assistant" was in the bathroom, court documents state. But police said she merely put her iPad in the bathroom on speakerphone, called a friend and asked that friend to communicate as if she were there, so the officer would think another adult was in Henry's former home watching the children.
Henry, 44, now of 2555 Log Cabin Road in West Manchester Township, appeared in York County Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to six first-degree misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of children.
As part of her plea agreement, she was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to have no contact with any of the children she previously watched, according to court records. She also was ordered not to work in day care while she is on probation, records state.
The plea agreement forbids her from supervising or monitoring any children less than 16 years old, except for her own.
Neither Henry nor her public defender, Valarie Potell, immediately returned phone messages seeking comment.
Tots left alone: According to Springettsbury Township Police, the father of one of the children in Henry's day care — which she ran from her former Erlen Drive home — suspected she was leaving the children alone in the house.
He asked his sister to watch Henry's home, and the sister saw Henry drive off about 11 a.m. Nov. 22, police said. She returned 20 minutes later with two more preschool children, according to police.
By that time, the sister watching the home had summoned her brother there, and he confronted Henry.
Henry claimed her assistant was sick and in the bathroom, but when the father knocked on the bathroom door he received no answer, court documents state.
At that point, a township officer, alerted that two adults were in a dispute, arrived at the home.
Henry gave the officer the same story about her assistant being in the bathroom, then said the woman "wasn't wearing any clothes and could not come out to talk to him," documents state.
The officer knocked on the bathroom door and heard a voice that sounded as if it was coming from a speaker or a baby monitor, police said.
'Just arrest me': Eventually, Henry told the officer, "Just arrest me," because she didn't want to open the bathroom door, police said.
She admitted that no one was in the bathroom and that she left the six children alone while she picked up more kids, according to police.
She claimed her assistant had taken ill and gone home earlier that day, but when police contacted that woman, she said she had never worked for Henry, documents state.
The six children ranged in age from 3 months to 2 years old, police said.
When asked to provide a copy of her day-care license, Henry claimed she mailed it somewhere, police said.
In fact, her day-care license had expired in December 2015, according to documents.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.