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May 30, 2013 6:10 PM by Irina Cates - KPAX News

Charges re-filed against daycare workers accused of leaving child in van

MISSOULA - The Missoula County Attorney's Office re-filed charges against two Missoula daycare employees accused of leaving a 3-year-old boy in the van last summer.

Tot Town Daycare Director Melanie Hoke and her former staff member Michelle Asby were originally charged by the Missoula City Attorney's Office, but the case was dismissed due to jurisdictional issues.

"It'll be tried up in the District Court, even though they're misdemeanor charges, which is unique, but just because of the nature of the charge with the reporting," says Hoke's Defense Attorney Paul Ryan.

Former Tot Town employee Jennifer Nogle received a 9-month deferred sentence in Municipal Court, but Hoke and Asby will face two misdemeanor charges in District Court. One of the charges is Negligent Endangerment, the other is for not reporting the incident to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

"She (Hoke) did in fact report this to the state on Monday after they had done an investigation. And often the reporting charge is because we want to recognize if on-going abuse has happened, so it's stopped. There was no abuse, there was nothing of that nature," Ryan said.

Prosecutors say last July Asby and Nogle drove a group of children to the Carmike Cinema to watch a movie, while Hoke met them at the theater.

Investigators say a 3-year-old boy was left in the van driven by Asby.

Prosecutors say video surveillance didn't show the boy with the group of children inside or outside of the theater.

"The video footage does not show all the areas. It only shows portions of the movie theater and it doesn't show the entire parking lot. Also we have a witness that we've discussed this with who actually looked in the van and there was no child in there," Ryan said.

Court documents say the boy told his grandmother he was crying for someone to let him out, but he ended up staying in the van until the group came back.

Investigators say it was 75 degrees outside the day of this alleged incident and the boy came back to the daycare "soaking wet."

Asby is scheduled to appear in court next month.

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