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Indianapolis daycare operator in court on reckless supervision charge

Ashley James’ bench trial began Tuesday
Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 01, 2019

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct charges filed by prosecutors.
INDIANAPOLIS — A day care operator appeared in court for a bench trial Tuesday, three years to the day after a toddler was injured at her facility.

Ashley James was charged in December 2016 with neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury, a level 5 felony, court records show.

In June 2019, Marion County prosecutors dismissed the felony and filed an amended count of reckless supervision by a child care provider, a class B misdemeanor, according to James’ attorney.

“I thank the prosecutors for their diligence and integrity in making the decision,” said Kim DeVane, attorney for Ashley James.

James faces up to 180 days behind bars, but DeVane said it’s unlikely James will do time in prison because she has no criminal history.

On October 1, 2016, Lashawna Payne’s 1-year old daughter was injured at Live, Laugh, Love and Learn child care ministry.

CALL 6 | Mother speaks out after toddler injured by older child while at day care

An 11-year old boy repeatedly hit, punched, scratched and tormented the little girl, records show.

James was the director of the facility at the time, and even though she was not present during the abuse, prosecutors said she put children in a dangerous situation and failed to comply with child to staff ratios at the day care as required by law.

“If something happens at your facility where you’re getting paid to take care of people’s children and taking money from parents, somebody has to be at fault,” Payne said. “These are the people we trust to teach and take care of our kids, and if something happens, it’s your responsibility. It’s your facility.”

James’ bench trial began Tuesday and was continued to Nov. 15.

“These people are living their own lives everyday with no remorse, and it’s just ridiculous,” Payne said.

James declined to talk to RTV6 outside of court Tuesday.

Payne plans to testify in the case.

“I would like to see (Ashley) admit she’s at fault, because it is her fault, as well as everybody else that was involved,” Payne said.

An employee, Brandi Bonner, pleaded guilty in 2017 to neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury.

Bonner is serving three years of home detention through Marion County Community Corrections.

Bonner was accused of not providing adequate and continuous care to the 1-year-old as the abuse happened.

Investigators believe James became aware of the child's injuries, and left Bonner to care for the eight children at the facility.

Indiana state law requires licensed day cares follow a certain ratio of children-to-staff. That ratio is dependent on the age of the youngest child.

For more information on the children-to-staff ratios, click here .

James is no longer listed as the director of Live, Laugh, Love and Learn.

Payne said her daughter is almost five-years-old now and is doing well.

“She does gymnastics, ballet, and she’s an amazing kid,” Payne said. “She still has some anxiety issues we’re working on. She’s going to be just fine.”