A Minneapolis woman evaded arrest for months after being charged with allegedly seriously injuring a toddler in her care last year and is now wanted again on a warrant after being released from jail with no bail requirement and failing to appear at a subsequent court hearing.
A Hennepin County criminal complaint states that in March 2018, officers with the Minneapolis Police Department were approached by staff at Children’s Hospital about a 19-month-old toddler with severe injuries that were “severely concerning for child abuse.” Injuries to the child included puncture wounds to her hand – which appeared to have been caused by a fork, handprint bruises on her arm, bruising to both sides of her face, and bleeding and swelling of her brain.
The child’s mother subsequently told investigators that she had started daycare at Sunshine Tree Child Development in Feb. 2018 and that her work schedule required her to find after-business-hours care for the child. She contracted with a volunteer/worker of the daycare, who was subsequently identified as Teiwana Mecole Wilson.
The complaint states that the child was left in Wilson’s care from the afternoon of March 5 until 8 p.m. on March 6, 2018 due to a snowstorm that left the daycare closed. When the child’s mother picked her up on March 6, she immediately knew something was wrong with her daughter. Wilson told the child’s mother that she had fallen while holding the child and told the mother to “just give her Tylenol.”
The child’s mother didn’t think that was a credible explanation for the child’s stress and took her to the hospital where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit and remained hospitalized for her injuries until late March 2018.
In a voluntary interview with investigators, Wilson confirmed that she was the sole care provider for the child over the two-day time frame and said she agreed to watch the child because she needed the money (the complaint does not make clear where Wilson was caring for the child). She told investigators that due to her medical conditions including a blood infection and chronic back pain she should not supervise children on her own and could not carry the child. Wilson further described to investigators the fall she believed caused the child’s brain injury. Medical professionals stated in the records that the child’s “severe” injuries would be an “unexpected result of a short fall,” as described by Wilson, and that a short fall did not explain the bilateral and patterned bruising on the child.
Further medical records obtained by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in Jan. 2019 said that the toddler suffered seizures and had an inadequate blood supply to her brain. The records further stated that she continues to need protracted medical care for paralysis on one side of her body, decreased movement in her face and other issues including seizures and altered awareness, the complaint said.
Following that medical report, Wilson was formally charged on Jan. 14, 2019 for the assault on the toddler and faces one count of felony first-degree assault involving great bodily harm, one count of felony child endangerment resulting in substantial harm to physical and/or emotional health, and one count of felony child neglect resulting in substantial harm. The complaint states that prosecutors plan to seek an aggravated sentence due to the particular vulnerability of the victim.
The complaint also details a prior conviction against Wilson for third-degree assault involving substantial bodily harm for a 2016 incident in which she struck and broke the nose of a mother in front of that mother’s child. When the eight-year-old child tried to intervene, Wilson struck the child. Wilson received a stay-of-imposition in 2017 on that felony conviction and was instead sentenced to 60 days in the workhouse.
A nationwide warrant was issued for Wilson’s arrest in Jan. 2019. Wilson, 46, was not taken into custody until Aug. 20, 2019 when she was arrested by South St. Paul police and booked into custody in Hennepin County Jail. She was granted a public defender and was initially held on $150,000 bail but was ordered conditionally released on Aug. 28 with no bail required.
THE DAYCARE FACILITY
A search of Department of Human Services (DHS) records shows that Sunshine Tree Child Development’s daycare license has been “closed” and that they are not licensed under that name to provide service in any capacity. Corresponding documents list Evette McCarthy as having been the authorized agent for the business. The DHS website also shows that the daycare center, formerly located at 621 E 38th Street in Minneapolis, had previously received several citations and “correction orders” for failure to comply with applicable laws or requirements, and was fined at least twice for failure to comply with requirements or orders from the commissioner.
A correction order from May 2016 lists 11 citations for a range of issues including subjecting children to “emotional abuse,” failure to comply with training requirements, hazardous objects within reach of children and failure to maintain required staff-to-child ratios. Another correction order with several citations was issued in June 2017, and the facility was fined in Aug. 2017 as a result of failure to comply with some of the citations in the June order.
In a correction order issued by the DHS just over a week prior to the toddler being injured in 2018, the facility was cited on seven counts including inadequate staff supervision, children not being grouped in the correct age category, staff leaving the children unsupervised for short periods of time, improper use of “mechanical restraints,” and not adequately documenting that an internal review was completed after a report of alleged maltreatment.
In the most recent fine order from the DHS dated Aug. 29, 2018, the document states that an investigation into the facility conducted in May 2018, two months after the toddler was injured, found that the facility had failed to comply with a previous order from the commissioner to immediately remove a disqualified individual from a position of direct contact [with children] and allowed that disqualified individual to return to a position which allowed them direct contact with or access to [children].
According to the document, the facility had been ordered in July 2014 to remove the staff person, identified as “SP1,” from having any direct contact with, or access to, persons [including children] receiving services at the facility. The investigation found that the business had allowed the staff member to return as a volunteer at the facility from Dec. 2017 to March 1, 2018, during which time SP1 had direct contact with children.
SP1 is mentioned in several of the other correction orders and documents from the DHS. Wilson is not identified by name in any of the documents but was referred to in the criminal complaint as a “worker/volunteer.” It’s not clear from the documents if Wilson was the “SP1” subject referred to in the documents.
A search of the Secretary of State’s website shows a business listing for Sunshine Tree Child Development under the nameholder of McDonald Sunshine Place at the address on East 38th Street and the record shows the listing as “active/in good standing.”
As recently as May 2019, Evette McCarthy was quoted in a MinnPost article about child care issues in the legislature. The article appeared to indicate that McCarthy was still operating Sunshine Tree Child Development child care center in Minneapolis. No mention was made in the article about the DHS closed license status of the business nor about the charges against Wilson. A LinkedIn page for Evette McDonald McCarthy lists her as the Executive Director at McDonald Sunshine Place.
NEW WARRANT ISSUED
Wilson, who has several different addresses listed in the court and jail records, was scheduled to appear at a hearing on the three felony charges on Sept. 5 but failed to appear in court. An order was issued revoking Wilson’s conditional release and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Wilson’s current whereabouts are unknown.
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