A Raymond woman has pleaded guilty to endangering children.
Lucinda Kay Stinemetz, 39, of 21963 State Route 347, Raymond, pleaded guilty Thursday to five counts of endangering children. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop one count of endangering children.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said that on Aug. 17, there was a kitchen fire at the home on Route 347. Liberty Township Fire Department responded to the home.
When the fire department arrived at the scene, the fire was already extinguished. Firefighters noted the home, “was cluttered, was filthy and was not a suitable environment for children.”
“In addition to the conditions of the home, they also noted that there was locks on the outside of the children’s bedrooms.”
When law enforcement officials examined the home, they “observed the unhealthy conditions of the home, the dirty dishes in the kitchen, the food left out as well as the lack of sanitary bathroom facilities for the children and family,” according to court documents.
Officials said the toilet had been used but not flushed “in some time.”
According to court documents, the county health commissioner determined living conditions in the home created “a substantial risk to the health or safety” of the children.
The prosecutor explained that in addition to the conditions inside the home, “at least one of the children didn’t have appropriate medical care.”
It was determined the six children, between age 7 and 16, could no longer live in the home.
“The children were removed the next day,” Phillips said.
Some of the children were stating with teachers.
According to court documents, “the teachers voiced concerns over the conditions of the children including marks on the children, bug bites, etc., the children’s lack of proper hygiene and their lack of knowledge of how to properly care for themselves.”
Phillips said Stinemetz is supposed to be working a plan to regain custody of the children.
“The goal, as far as the agency is concerned, is to reunify the family,” Phillips said.
He said the dangerous conditions go far beyond the typical home conditions.
“There has to be conditions in the house that could cause harm to the child,” Phillips said. “Certainly having a dirty or cluttered house is not enough.”
He said the same is true with filing criminal charges.
“We certainly wouldn’t even want to consider this unless there is a significant reason to believe the children were in danger as a result of the conditions here,” Phillips said. “We thought the allegations were serious enough to bring criminal charges, especially given the history.”
Usually, endangering children is charged as a misdemeanor on a first offense. Once a defendant is convicted of endangering children, future allegations are generally charged as felonies. In 2012 Stinemetz pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but the entire sentence was suspended.
On the most recent conviction, Stinemetz could face as many as seven and a half years in prison. Judge Don Fraser ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for April 25.
...For the full story, select an option below.