Former Carson baby-sitter sentenced to prison in Virginia
March 1, 2006
CARSON CITY – A former capital city day-care owner was sentenced to 10 years in a Virginia prison last week for illegally operating a day care in Virginia Beach, Va., in which a toddler died in September.
Anne Marie Cardinal, 42, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of operating a child day care without a license.
In 1998, Cardinal ran Miss Anne Marie’s Family Childcare on Racetrack Road in Carson City.
On Thursday, Cardinal was sentenced by Virginia Beach General District Court Judge T. M. Ammons III, to serve 10 years in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, said Jackie Chapman, spokeswoman for the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach.
In announcing the sentence, Ammons told the defendant that the greatest duty of a day-care provider is to provide care of the children entrusted to them.
“What was done was entirely reprehensible,” he said.
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Cardinal came to the attention of authorities in September when 9-month-old Hannah Weiss died in her care.
According to the police investigation, on Sept. 14, 2005, Cardinal placed a 911 call to report Hannah was not breathing.
At that time, she was operating an unlicensed day care out of her home and had 21 children, including the victim, in her care that day, Chapman said.
When police officers arrived on the scene, attempts were made to resuscitate the child, however she was already cool and slightly rigid.
Rescue personnel pronounced Hannah dead at the scene and the child was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Norfolk, Va.
Pathologist Leah Bush ruled out Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as a cause of the death, instead labeling it as “sudden unexpected infant death” with the cause of death being undetermined.
She noted in the autopsy report there were abrasions inside the child’s upper lip and cheek, “suggestive of smothering.”
Bush went on to note, “SIDS deaths occurs in healthy infants, but are unusual after the age of 4 months and almost unheard of after the age of 6 months. This child is older than the usual SIDS case and the questionable circumstances in which she was found preclude the diagnosis of SIDS.”
This was not Cardinal’s first run-in with Virginia Beach authorities.
During the two-day sentencing hearing it was revealed that Cardinal had an infant in her care who suffered a spiral fracture in 2000 when the defendant grabbed her by the leg, Chapman said. Further testimony revealed that Cardinal was convicted in Virginia of child neglect for putting children inside a closet at her home-run child-care center there. In December 2000, she was given a 60-day suspended jail sentence.
The defendant had kept at least one infant in her bedroom closet for most of the day and had requested her husband to soundproof the closet, Chapman said.
Several months later, Cardinal and her husband, Michael Cardinal, were charged with conspiring to obtain money under false pretenses, a felony. They pleaded guilty. Michael Cardinal also pleaded guilty to three other similar charges, according to a report in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.
Homicide Detective Sean Coerse, with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday charges have not been filed against Cardinal in the infant’s death. He declined to comment on the details of his investigation.