Woman charged with illegal day care

January 28, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Margaret G. Donnelly, whose husband was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing five elementary school-age girls at her Edgewater day-care center, was herself charged yesterday with running the center without a license.

County police served a criminal summons to Mrs. Donnelly, 71, at her lawyer's office in Annapolis about 1 p.m. No court date has been set. She faces a maximum $1,000 fine, but no jail time, for violating a state law requiring a license to run a day-care center.

Her husband, Earl J. Donnelly, 71, was released on $150,000 bail Wednesday after being arrested and charged with fondling girls at the center in the couple's home in the 1000 block of Carrs Wharf Road.

Mr. Donnelly faces 11 counts that include child abuse, second-degree sex offenses and fourth-degree sex offenses. Police said their investigation is continuing and investigators have interviewed as many as 13 children.

The couple's lawyer, Keith B. Krissoff, said Mrs. Donnelly had been in his office when police served the summons to appear in District Court. Authorities could not obtain an arrest warrant because the charge is not punishable with jail time.

Mr. Krissoff would not comment on specifics of the charges. "The entire family was shocked by the allegations, which are denied by Mr. Donnelly," he said. "His family has been extremely supportive of him. These allegations are brand new, and a lot of work needs to be done. The family is strong."

State regulations prohibit caring for more than eight children any one time at a home day-care center, said John Graybill, the acting assistant director of program standards for the Child Care Administration of the state Department of Human Services.

Faye Scheibe, a county police spokeswoman, said as many as 13 youngsters were being cared for at the day-care center.

A day-care center can have more than eight children, Mr. Graybill said, as long as no more than eight are being cared for at once. Police did not know whether this was the case at the Donnelly home.

Mr. Graybill said he did not know how many unlicensed day-care centers are operating in the state, but he said staff members have fielded at least 1,000 complaint calls about centers in the past year. None concerned Mrs. Donnelly's, he said.

Mrs. Donnelly has not been charged with any of the crimes her husband is accused of, and the couple's lawyer declined to say where the Donnellys are staying.

The five children Mr. Donnelly allegedly abused are between 7 and 10 years old, police said. Court documents said police were called on Sunday after a parent heard the allegations from a child.

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