A day care worker accused last week of burning a 16-month-old boy at Discovering Basics in Clermont appeared in court Monday for the first time.
Eddye Pittmon, 55, of Talmo was charged with cruelty to children in the first degree. The level of the charge relates to how long the child had to suffer, Hall County sheriff’s Deputy Nicole Bailes said.
“So it doesn’t mean she was maliciously or intentionally involved in his injuries,” Bailes said. “However, she was aware of the injuries and failed to seek treatment for him.”
The child, Damon Gaddis, is recovering from second- and third-degree burns from his stomach to the bottom of his left leg. He was treated at the Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta.
Pittmon waived a hearing of the evidence against her, advancing her case to Superior Court. She will remain in custody until her bond hearing Thursday.
Pittmon’s lawyer, Troy Millikan, said the delay in a bond hearing is not the norm in these cases.
“They could’ve consented to a bond and should have,” he said. “But for some reason, the prosecutors believe the only place people should be is in jail, waiting for trial, and that’s ridiculous.”
Millikan said Pittmon is a “sweet lady with a clean record.”
He said he has spoken to other parents attesting to her character.
“She’s innocent until proven guilty,” Millikan said. “There’s a very good likelihood that this burning took place someplace other than the child care center.”
Mike Weaver, the attorney for the child and his mother, Megan Seabolt, disputes that claim.
“There’s no one in law enforcement (who) has looked at this case in depth that remotely attaches the mother to anything related to the child’s injury,” Weaver said.
Weaver and the family are not a part of the investigation but are focused on Damon’s recovery. They expect Discovery Basics to contribute to the medical costs, Weaver said.
“We would expect them to do the best they can in making the child whole,” Weaver said.
“It doesn’t necessarily require that you have to sue. It’ll be a suit if that’s what it takes. I think the legal grounds are there for a suit, but a lot of cases like this where the negligence is obvious, the case will settle.”
The Discovering Basics attorney, Jim Walters, said he has received a letter from Weaver asking for insurance information, but the day care center is facing other concerns.
“They serve about 30 to 40 children in the summertime, so they need to stay open to serve the public,” Walters said.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning has determined the day care is putting children in imminent danger and plans to close the center at 4 p.m. today, according to a news release. The day care center remains open under supervision from DECAL.
The day care center can appeal that decision before an administrative law judge with the Office of State Administrative Hearings.
“We will have a hearing and we hope that the order will be withdrawn,” Walters said. “This child’s injuries did not occur at the day care center and there’s no evidence of that. The owner has been in this business for over 20 years and never, ever had any negative incident.”
The case is ongoing and law enforcement is still interviewing employees of the business.
Bailes said the sheriff’s office hopes to have this investigation wrapped up at the end of the week.
“It’s a very serious case, but Hall County’s been on top of it,” Weaver said. “I’m sure in the end the people that need to be held responsible will be.”