Court sentencing expected next Wednesday for former daycare workers in child abuse case

Published 1:48 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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VIDALIA, La. — Four women who worked in a Vidalia daycare and each pleaded guilty to child abuse charges are expected to appear in court on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

In October 2021, a Louisiana State Police investigation of child cruelty allegations involving Noah’s Ark Christian Childcare in Vidalia resulted in the daycare’s closing and ended with the arrest of the three daycare employees and the owner.

Lysa C. Richardson, the owner, and three former employees, Bridget K. Delaughter, Julianne Perales and Taylor Ragonesi, pleaded guilty in June to charges of cruelty to a juvenile. Richardson pleaded guilty to three counts; Delaughter pleaded guilty to three counts; Perales pleaded guilty to six counts; and Ragonesi pleaded guilty to one count.

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Louisiana 7th Judicial District Judge Kathy Johnson is overseeing the court proceedings.

Johnson ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, which would require a review of all of the evidence including hours of surveillance video from the daycare. Johnson tentatively set the date of the sentencing for Wednesday, Sept. 7, to follow this investigation.

Austin Lipsey, the assistant district attorney, said Wednesday afternoon the exact details of the sentencing are being worked out with the judge’s office.

Outraged parents on social media expressed their hope that next Wednesday will be the day the women are sentenced to jail time for the pain they’ve caused them. Annabelle Wilson, one of these parents, shared a video of children being slapped, hit with paint sticks and sleeping mats, and dragged by their arms at the daycare.

In October 2021, Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint about a 14-month-old child being struck at the daycare and seized a DVR hard drive from security cameras that reportedly recorded numerous instances of children being struck excessively on different parts of the body including the face, mouth and head and being hit with wooden paint sticks. CPSB later turned the investigation over to LSP due to a conflict.

According to Louisiana law, a person convicted of cruelty to juveniles when the child is younger than 8 years old shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not more than 20 years.

In the case of multiple child cruelty charges, it would be up to the judge’s discretion as to whether that sentence is concurrent or consecutive.