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Greenwood childcare provider charged with neglect, battery after baby choked on pacifier

Alyssa Tagua operates an unlicensed facility
Posted at 5:52 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2023-07-12 11:12:51-04

GREENWOOD — UPDATE: The charges against Alyssa Tagua were dismissed and the case was expunged. The order to dismiss was filed March 1, 2023.

A Greenwood home childcare provider is charged with two felonies after a baby in her care choked on a pacifier, court documents allege.

Alyssa Tagua, 25, is charged with Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Bodily Injury and Battery on a Person Less Than 14 Years Old.

On August 31, 2021, a Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a 911 call at Tagua’s home in Greenwood for a report of a baby choking on a pacifier, but still able to get some air, court records say.

The child was transported to Community South Hospital and later transferred to Riley Children’s Hospital, read the probable cause affidavit filed by prosecutors.

The baby survived, according to the prosecutor's office.

The Indiana Department of Child Services told sheriff’s deputies their staff spoke with doctors at Riley, court documents say.

“Their opinion was that there was no way the infant could have swallowed the pacifier on its own,” read the probable cause affidavit.

On September 2, sheriff’s deputies went to Tagua’s home to speak with Tagua, who said she runs an unlicensed daycare at her home.

“Tagua indicated she is attempting to get her license through the State and is working closely with a licensing agent,” read court documents. “Tagua indicated she is allowed (being unlicensed) to care for 5 children in addition to her 4 children.”

Under state law, a daycare can legally operate without a license as long as they have five or fewer children unrelated to the provider.

Tagua told deputies she put the baby down for an afternoon nap with a blanket and pacifier, per the parent’s instructions, court documents allege.

She indicated when she left the baby in a crib, she heard the baby crying and fussing a bit, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Tagua indicated she went to the restroom, and while in the restroom she noticed the baby wasn’t crying anymore and had rolled over onto its stomach, court documents allege.

She told law enforcement the baby’s parents had not informed her the baby could roll over on its own, read the probable cause affidavit.

Tagua told deputies the baby’s eyes were bulging and she realized the baby had swallowed the pacifier and immediately called 911, court documents allege.

When law enforcement asked for the security camera footage from her living room, Tagua told them she doesn’t pay for the cloud service and only uses it for direct monitoring through her phone, court documents allege.

When asked if she could think of any other explanation of how this could have happened, Tagua indicated a 3-year-old girl in her care also likes to “play mommy” and put pacifiers in other kid’s mouths.

However, Tagua did not believe that is what happened because the baby, because it was in a crib at the time of the incident, read court documents.

Tagua also contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services prior to them conducting an in-home visit, according to the probable cause affidavit.

DCS investigates whether someone is responsible for child abuse or neglect, but their findings are not public record and their determination is not included in the probable cause affidavit.

WRTV Investigates contacted Tagua's attorney, Carrie Miles.

"Alyssa wholeheartedly cooperated with law enforcement and denies any criminal wrongdoing," said Miles in a statement. "She was stunned when criminal charges were filed. We will vigorously defend her against the crimes charged."

Law enforcement also spoke with the baby’s mother.

“She indicated she doesn’t want to think that Tagua could have intentionally harmed her child because she researched providers and specifically selected Tagua,” read the probable cause affidavit. “However, she is listening to what medical staff told her that they do not believe (the baby) could have swallowed the pacifier on their own.”

In February 2021, WRTV Investigates got complaints from parents about Tagua, including inquiries about whether she was operating legally.

WRTV Investigates reached out to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration in February 2021, and a spokesperson said the agency was investigating a complaint.

Following the criminal charges filed against Tagua, WRTV Investigates contacted FSS and asked for an update.

“We have visited Ms. Tagua’s residence six times since we originally heard she was serving too many children in February of 2021, but each time we have visited, she has been caring for five or fewer children, which state law allows, without a license,” said Marni Lemons, FSSA’s Deputy Director of Communications, in an email to WRTV. “The charging document says she claimed to have filed to be licensed by FSSA last year, which is accurate. But no further action has been taken on her application for licensure because she has not consented for us to conduct a criminal background check.”

Regarding the pending felony charges, Tagua is scheduled for a pretrial conference on May 5 and a jury trial on June 14.