| Crime |

Dedrie Womack, Daycare Worker: No-Contest Plea for Giving Kids Sleep Aid

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Update: On October 31 of last year, we told you about accusations against Montrose's Dedrie Womack.

The 44-year-old day care employee was accused of giving a sleep aid to as many as 35 children at the center where she worked.

Now, Womack has reportedly entered a guilty plea in the case.

She won't serve any jail time in relation to the incident.

But neither will she be allowed to work with young children.

As we've reported, Womack had a gig at Montrose's Hug-A-Bear Childcare & Learning Center. At the time of Womack's citation, its first-rate website included this statement:

We respect the level of trust you place in us when you enroll your child at Hug-A-Bear Child Care & Learning Center, and we are committed to providing the very best care and education possible. The best learning experiences happen when children are having fun. Our activities focus on helping children develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

The center acted quickly when questions were raised about Womack. According to information provided by the Montrose Police Department and shared by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, one of Womack's fellow workers noticed her giving medication to the two-to-five-year-old children in her care and informed Hug-A-Bear's owner, Patricia Quinliven-Ray.

Shortly thereafter, police, emergency medical personnel and parents were alerted.

The good news: all the kid were okay. As for what Womack is thought to have dispensed, it was melatonin, a substance recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. The NSF entry on melatonin reads in part:

Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body's pineal (pih-knee-uhl) gland. This is a pea-sized gland located just above the middle of the brain. During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is "turned on" by the SCN and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. Usually, this occurs around 9 pm. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes more inviting. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours — all through the night — before the light of a new day when they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 am. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable.

As noted by the Sentinel, the Foundation recommends melatonin dosages of one-to-three milligrams. The pills allegedly doled out by Womack were five milligrams.

Womack could have faced between 25 and 35 counts. But yesterday, May 19, the Montrose Daily Press reports, she pleaded no contest to a single charge of non-injury child abuse, a second-class misdemeanor, as part of a prosecutorial agreement.

That pact calls for supervised probation, the term of which will be determined at a July 29 sentencing. In addition, Womack will pay restitution and write apology letters to the parents of the kids — and she'll be precluded from working with children younger than fifteen.

As for Hug-A-Bear, the link to its website, included above, is now dead and its phone number has been disconnected.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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