The Washington Post reports that a day care owner and worker has been sentenced to 21 years for drugging children so she could go tanning and to CrossFit. January Neatherlin, 32, told parents of the children they weren’t allowed to pick up between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. because it was naptime, but she actually dropped her own kids off at school and would go work out or tan during that time. 

Neatherlin’s daycare was an illegal operation, and she would drug the seven children there with melatonin to ensure they wouldn’t wake up and hurt themselves.

Neatherlin was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison, according to the Oregonian, after she pleaded guilty to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third degree assault. Her daycare was called “Little Giggles.”

Authorities learned of her scheme a year ago when they were alerted by an ex-boyfriend and ex-roommate of Neatherlin.

She also told parents she was a registered nurse, which isn’t true. In addition, she has a criminal record dating back to 2007, when she was convicted of “multiple instances of theft and identity theft.”

Little Giggles was in operation for five years. Court testimony included stories of everything from interrupted sleep schedules due to the melatonin to one child being fed scalding milk and suffering blisters in her mouth. Neatherlin told the parents of that girl that she was suffering from spider bites.

Melatonin was found in some of the children when she was arrested at her home southeast of Portland. Although melatonin is considered relatively safe, it is not without its warnings from the FDA. It is recommended that children only be given the hormone after a consult with a doctor, and it can interfere with other drugs.

Parents of the children asked the court for the maximum sentence of 35 years, but Neatherlin was given 21 years and four months.

*Photo credit WP Company LLC d/b/a/ The Washington Post