A 52-year-old Ohio woman accused of abusing children at a non-registered day care she operated was sentenced this week to 30 days in jail as part of a plea deal to a lesser charge.
Kimberly Hignite entered guilty pleas Monday to 14 individual counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, according to reports.
More than a year ago, Hignite was indicted on five counts of gross sexual imposition and 17 counts of child endangerment for allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with children in her care between February 2011 and May 2018.
Three of the gross sexual imposition charges and five of the child endangerment charges were dismissed under the terms of the plea agreement.
Two sexual misconduct charges were also reduced to child endangerment charges, reports WSYX.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that several victims and their parents were in attendance for Monday’s hearing in Franklin County Common Pleas courtroom.
Police searched Hignite’s home in Grove City in May 2018 after receiving complaints from two children enrolled in her unlicensed day care.
During the search, the Dispatch reports 23 children were found, but Hignite was out, having left her 71-year-old mother to watch the children.
The children ranged in age from 7 months to 5 years, according to WBNS.
Some of the children were discovered strapped into car seats and abandoned in various rooms throughout the house.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Hignite steadfastly denied touching the children in a sexual way.
Some of the parents who spoke at Hignite’s hearing called the woman “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” whose behavior changed their children irrevocably, reports the paper.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge William Woods said he’s hopeful those impacted by Hignite’s actions “are successful in overcoming the harm that has been done in this case.”