BRADENTON — A charge of child neglect against a day care operator has been dropped by prosecutors, and a teenage boy accused of brutally beating a 22-month-old girl at the same day care will undergo a mental evaluation, the Herald has learned.
On July 7, the day care operator and home owner, Heather Elizabeth Lovett, left four children in the care of Charles Stancomb, her boyfriend’s son, who was 13 at the time.
Stancomb, now 14, was later arrested on a charge of aggravated child abuse, a first-degree felony, after the girl was choked and punched approximately 20 times at Our Kids Home Daycare, 1420 16th St. W., authorities said.
Stancomb told investigators he became enraged and punched the girl repeatedly after she threw a golf ball at him, according to authorities.
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Police are awaiting lab results and may still charge Stancomb with sexual battery, said Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer. Stancomb has denied sexually assaulting the girl.
On Friday, attorneys for Stancomb requested he undergo a mental evaluation. In the meantime, he will remain in juvenile detention.
The charge against Lovett was dropped because there was no evidence she “was aware that the 13-year-old boy posed a risk of harm to the children,” according to a decline memo issued by the State Attorney’s Office on July 30.
“To prove a ... case of child neglect, the State is required to present substantial evidence that the defendant’s acts or omissions could have reasonably been expected to result in serious injury to the child. No such evidence exists,” it read.
Lovett, who left Stancomb in charge because she needed to run an errand, told police she knew she wasn’t supposed to leave the children in the care of someone who is not licensed and/or certified, much less a minor, according to reports.
“We would have liked the case to be prosecuted, but we also understand the standards that are in place for the state to prosecute,” Tokajer said. “The reason we made the arrest was because we feel there is a risk.”
Terry Field, spokesman for the Department of Children & Families, said Lovett’s license remains revoked. It was revoked after the allegations came to light and Lovett never updated her new address for the day care.
To get a new license, Lovett would have re-apply. As of Friday, she had not submitted any paperwork, Field said.
Police also filed paperwork with the State Attorney’s Office investigating a lewd and lascivious molestation charge stemming from a June 21 incident involving Stancomb’s 16-year-old brother at the day care. As of Friday, prosecutors had not made a decision whether to file charges.