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Williston daycare provider charged with child abuse

WILLISTON, N.D. - A 22-year-old woman who provided daycare services in her home is accused of injuring a 2-month-old child in November.

Corey Gardner was arrested Tuesday, March 19, and charged with one class B felony count of child abuse. Police say she caused an occipital bone fracture, ligament strains on the baby’s spine, retinal bleeding and a broken arm bone. When the child’s mother picked her up from Gardner’s home on Nov. 6, the infant was unresponsive and difficult to wake, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court.

The child was first taken to Bismarck and eventually transferred to a children’s critical care hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Doctors there diagnosed the child with retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, occipital bone fractures, a broken left arm, ligament strains, a subdural hematoma and injuries to the brain caused by lack of oxygen, court records state. The child’s parents told police that she had a cold when dropped off at Gardner’s home for daycare, but was otherwise healthy.

Gardner, who had been caring for the child as an unlicensed daycare provider starting in mid-October, told police that the child had been fussy throughout the day because of the cold and that in the early afternoon, the child started screaming, charging documents indicate.

She said she picked up the baby to console her and laid her down to sleep about half an hour later.

She also told police that when the girl’s mother came to pick her up that afternoon, the child was pale and unresponsive, police said.

“Gardner denied any accidental trauma to (the child) and stated that her husband, Lane, was at work,” investigators wrote in court documents.

A doctor who specializes in diagnosing child abuse examined the baby’s medical records and determined that the injuries likely happened within 72 hours of when they were discovered, according to court records.

The doctor also determined that the strains to spinal ligaments were consistent with what police termed “rotational injuries to the neck and head,” and the subdural hematoma — a medical term for a collection of blood outside the brain — was consistent with the movement of the brain inside the skull.

Police also interviewed a photographer who look pictures of the child on Nov. 5, the day before the injuries were discovered. The photographer said nothing seemed out of the ordinary with the baby that day, apart from cold symptoms.

A bond hearing date for Gardner had not been scheduled as of Tuesday.