Daycare Owner Who Sexually Abused Kids In Her Care Only Sentenced To 30 Days In Jail

Photo: Franklin County Jail 
Who Is Kimberly Hignite? New Details On The Day Care Owner Who Sexually Abused Kids And Got Only 30 Days In Jail

An Ohio woman will be going to jail after she was accused of child endangerment and sexual abuse of children in her daycare. But her sentence is only going to be one month long—30 days. What the what?!

Kimberly Hignite was arrested in 2018 after authorities responded to complaints from two families about abuse and neglect at her unlicensed home daycare. She was indicted on almost two dozen counts related to sexual abuse and child endangerment, both of which count as misdemeanors under Ohio law.

Now, a year later, Hignite has reached a plea agreement and will serve only 30 days for her crimes. What happened? Who is Kimberly Hignite?

1. Initial charges

In 2018, after her daycare was investigated by police, Hignite turned herself in to authorities and was indicted on five counts of gross sexual imposition and seventeen counts of child endangering.

The local ABC affiliate reported that Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said at the time: “This woman had 23 children in her home daycare and had an ongoing sexually abusive relationship with several of the children. It’s not touching somebody on the shoulder, touching them in an inappropriate place that is of a sexual nature. Hignite had touched them in their private areas and had two of the kids touch each other in private areas.” 

The daycare was unlicensed.

2. Abuse

Parents were able to share stories about evidence they saw of abusive conditions in the unlicensed daycare. Brook Nela had two children there but withdrew them both after her toddler son was physically harmed as punishment for having a potty training accident. She told ABC at the time: “They told us that Kim had thrown the shoe at him in anger for him having an accident. So when I picked him up that day, he had a busted lip, a mouth full of blood, was standing at the door with just a tee-shirt on, no underwear no diaper. That was it, that was our last straw, and we never returned.”

In addition to the other types of abuse and neglect at the daycare, the local NBC affiliate reported that several children had told investigators about sexual touching, claiming that Hignite called it the “Silly Touching Game”.

The neglect charges were significant.

RELATED: Who Is John Austin Hopkins? New Details On The Gym Teacher Accused Of Sexually Assaulting At Least 28 First Graders

3. Raid

Police investigated the home daycare in May 2018 after receiving complaints about it from parents. When they arrived, they discovered that there were 23 children in the home. Hignite herself wasn’t there; she had left her 71-year-old mother who required a walker for mobility, in charge. The children ranged in age from infants to five years old. The children weren’t being supervised directly, some were strapped into car seats and left alone in rooms. The daycare was unlicensed even though the state of Ohio requires a facility to be licensed if they have more than six children in their care.

Parents reported Hignite to the police.

4. Denial

Lawyers for Hignite say they were stunned about the allegations of sexual abuse at the reading of her indictment. NBC reported that defense attorney Sam Shamansky claimed at the time: “We didn’t know anything about the sexual nature of the allegations. We knew they were investigating the daycare itself.”

Parents were disturbed by reports from their children.

5. Plea deal

Now, nearly a year later Hignite has pleaded guilty to a number of lesser charges. The Columbus Dispatch reported that three of the gross sexual imposition charges and five of the child endangerment charges were dismissed and the other two sexual misconduct charges were lowered to child endangerment charges. It’s not clear what led to the decision to accept a lesser plea but Assistant prosecutor Amy Van Culin said all of the families who cooperated were involved in the plea agreement. As a result of the plea deal, Hignite will only serve 30 days in jail and pay a $4,200 fine.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

The sentence seems incredibly light. 

RELATED: Who Is Alisha Newman? New Details On The Nurse And Mom Who Faked Daughter’s Illness To Get Attention

6. Judge’s statement

The judge, who told the court that he was a father and grandfather himself, said that this case had been hard for him to handle. While the plea deal reduced all Hignite’s crimes to misdemeanors, he indicated that he knew that what she did was damaging to the children and their families. He told the court: “I certainly understand the pain of the families in this case, the seriousness of the trust that is placed upon day cares, the impact daycares have on the children. The court hopes again that the families are successful in overcoming the harm that has been done in this case.”

The judge accepted the light deal. 

When Hignite was initially arrested, Prosecutor O’Brien shared this message with families: “I encourage parents to look into who it is they are leaving their child with because that is their most trusted possession. There are certain parts of your body no one should touch. And if anyone would, or if another child would tell your parents right away. Train your children that way.”

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.