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Day Care Provider Faces Abuse Charges

August 19, 2014, 6:08 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Day Care Provider Faces Abuse Charges
Karen Leraas


A Sioux Falls day care provider is in jail for allegedly abusing a four-month-old in her care. Tuesday, Karen Leraas was in court facing charges of abuse or cruelty to a minor.

While she maintains her innocence, it came out in court that this isn't the first time a child has been injured under her care.

Court papers show Leraas was watching a four-month-old boy on August 7 at her home day care on South Campbell Trail when the baby went unconscious.  Leraas called 911, and the boy was taken by ambulance to the Sanford Emergency Room.

That's where doctors noticed something unusual about the boy's injuries.

"Found that those were suspicious in nature. That's where detectives were called by medical staff," Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.

The boy was suffering from bruising on the brain and bleeding around his retina. Doctors called police to report what they called "non-accidental injuries."

While Leraas told investigators later that it was a two-year-old in her care that caused the boy's injuries, authorities are still moving forward with the charges.

"The day care provider was the only one home at the time. And it's believed that she is the one who caused the injuries to that child," Clemens said. 

In court, it was pointed out this isn't the first time a child has been hurt while under Leraas's care.

In 2011, investigators questioned Leraas about a two-year-old with a broken arm and bruising in her care. No charges were filed at that time. But in court on Tuesday, Judge Joni Cutler called Leraas a "danger to the community," and ordered that she is to have no contact with anyone under 18 years old.

The four-month-old boy is still recovering from his injuries.

"The boy is doing better at the hospital. Things have gotten a little bit better from what they were," Clemens said. 

Leraas could face up to 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted of Class 3 felony child abuse. Her preliminary hearing is set for early September.

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