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Former daycare workers arrainged in Southampton Justice Court

9/16/2015

Former Day Care Workers Plead Not Guilty In Southampton Town Justice Court

 Sep 16, 2015 11:59 AM
By Alisha Steindecker

Both of the former employees of Side By Side Child Care Center in Southampton charged last month with endangering the welfare of children in their care entered not guilty pleas at their arraignments at Southampton Town Justice Court this week, denying the charges against them.

Kathleen Culver, 33, of Southampton was arraigned on Monday and represented by Melissa Aguanno, an attorney who is associated with Edward Burke Jr. and Associates in Sag Harbor, but is handling the case through her own firm.

“She fully denies any and all allegations that anyone has made against her,” Ms. Aguanno said of her client. “She is a mother, and she has worked there for 13 years—she never had a problem there—and she looks forward to proving her innocence in court.”

Ms. Aguanno informed Town Justice Barbara Wilson that her client wished to proceed with a jury trial, but her next court date on November 9 would be for conference purposes.

In court, Ms. Culver was served with a confidential order of protection, meaning that the public cannot know who it is for or its terms. Ms. Aguanno said that by law she cannot disclose that information.

On Wednesday morning, Sarah Dawber, 23, of Patchogue was represented at her arraignment by Astarita and Associates, a firm in Southampton.

Before the arraignment, Anthony Rutkowski, a lawyer for that firm, explained that despite Ms. Dawber’s written statement to police admitting to certain allegations made against her, she too will deny the charges. He added that her current situation arose from Ms. Culver, who was the head teacher of the infants at the day care.

“Individuals have been proved innocent many times after they have admitted to the charges against them,” Mr. Rutkowski said. Ultimately, they will look for a dismissal of the charges against Ms. Dawber or a deal for “anything that wouldn’t be a criminal conviction,” he said.

Mr. Rukowski said he did not know if the day care center will stand by its two employees or if it will contest the State Office of Children and Family Services decision to shut it down. “When someone gets arrested, look what happens: the place shuts down,” he said, adding that if Ms. Dawber is proven innocent, “people won’t remember she’s innocent.”

Ms. Dawber was served with a confidential stay away order for a minor individual and will return to court on November 9.

Ms. Culver and Ms. Dawber were arrested at the child care center on North Sea Road on August 28. Each was charged with endangering the welfare of children, a misdemeanor, after an investigation conducted by Southampton Town Police and the State Office of Child and Family Services.

Two employees of the day care center alleged, in detailed accounts to police, that Ms. Culver and Ms. Dawber abused children by force-feeding them and slamming them to the ground. The day care center’s license was revoked by the state on September 3, but it may continue to operate with increased state supervision while the decision is being challenged.

The revocation will be finalized if Side By Side does not request a hearing to object to the state authority’s decision within 30 days.

Since the arrest of both Ms. Dawber and Ms. Culver, many parents of children at the day care center, including those who used the staff members as private babysitters, have come forward to support them.http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/General-Interest-Southampton/122692/Side-By-Side-Employee-Arraigned-Monday