Little Fit Daycare owner sentenced to probation

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

The owner of a childcare facility closed by the state will serve probation but no jail time for the injury of a child that occurred on business grounds.

According to Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, whose office prosecuted the case, Magistrate Judge Justin Julian sentenced Little Fit Daycare owner Dennis Ray McLeish to 364 days of unsupervised probation. McLeish is also ordered to pay $750, is barred from working in the childcare industry and must undergo 20 hours of childcare instruction. Julian also granted withheld judgment, meaning that McHugh will not have a criminal conviction entered against him should he fulfill the terms of his sentence.

The state has 60 days to file a motion for restitution.

McLeish initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of injury to a child. He later entered an Alford plea, which is treated as a guilty plea in court with the understanding that the defendant doesn’t admit to the crime.

The sentencing stems from an incident earlier this year, in which a six-month-old infant was found unresponsive at Little Fit Daycare in Ponderay. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare later revoked the daycare’s Idaho Child Care Provider agreement, alleging that children were left unattended while several other children abused the infant.

“In the absence of your care, the infant was hit, held down by the back of the neck, dragged across the carpet, head butted, bit, and hit with wood and plastic toys by other unattended children,” the letter read. “The children’s actions toward the infant, without any adult supervision or intervention, led to the infant’s serious injury which required medical care and hospitalization.”

Responding in media reports to the charges shortly after the incident, McLeish said that the assault wasn’t the result of negligence, but rather an unforeseen tragedy that could happen to the most attentive caregiver.

“(The kids) are laying with (the baby) one minute, they are playing with him for a better portion of it, they were being cute and patting his head and putting a blanket on his back and letting him play with toys, and then they just start assaulting him,” McLeish told KHQ News. “It is literally one of the most horrible things, and it was just so sad to see these babies do that.”

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.