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Former York County mom guilty of child endangerment
A former Loganville woman who police said left her babies alone in a motel room while she drove to Glen Rock to do laundry has managed to improve her life and the lives of her children, according to her attorney.
"Her life has turned around incredibly," first assistant public defender Clasina Houtman said. "A lot of things have changed for her. It's hard to care for young children when you're living in poverty and trying to figure out how to feed them and yourself, and put a roof over their heads."
Kayla Ann Rafferty, 29, now of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in York County Court on Thursday, Nov. 16, to two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, according to court records.
She was sentenced to 20 days to 18 months in York County Prison, and given 20 days' credit for the time she served in York County Prison after being arrested in Myrtle Beach on an outstanding bench warrant in her criminal case.
After being extradited to York County, she was held in prison until her case was resolved. She was released Thursday, Houtman said.
The background: State police filed child-endangerment charges against Rafferty in December 2011, alleging she left her 2-month-old and 1-year-old daughters alone in a room at the Midway Motel on Main Street.
At the time, Rafferty told The York Dispatch she had asked a neighbor to watch the babies while she did laundry. The neighbor confirmed her account at the time, saying he had to leave the girls to check on his elderly mother in a different motel room.
But state police said troopers were in Rafferty's room for 90 minutes, and during that time no one came to check on the children, who both had soiled diapers.
Rafferty said in 2011 that the York County Office of Children, Youth and Families returned her daughters to her the next day on the conditions that another responsible person would be with the children too and that Rafferty get parenting counseling, which she said she did.
Houtman said her client "wasn't making the best decisions at the time."
"What she acknowledged in court was that she didn't communicate well with the baby sitter and left the room before he arrived," she said.
Homeless: Rafferty and her daughters left the Midway Motel, and from there were homeless for a time, according to Houtman.
But the children's father was able to help, and he lives in South Carolina, the attorney said.
"So she went down there to get back on her feet," Houtman said.
Rafferty was initially accepted into York County's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time nonviolent offenders to avoid conviction by completing court-ordered requirements.
But her acceptance into ARD was revoked when she couldn't afford to return to Pennsylvania in time to be placed in the program, according to Houtman.
"After that, she became fearful of getting locked up over this," the attorney said.
New chapter: Now that the case is behind her, Rafferty can concentrate on moving forward, Houtman said.
"She's doing really well. She married the father of her children, and they have a third child together," the attorney said. "She works two jobs and they just bought a house."
The two babies found alone by state police in 2011 are now in kindergarten and first grade and also are thriving, according to Houtman, who said it's clear Rafferty loves them.
"They have a good life, and they're a good family," she said. "It's really nice to see."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.