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Durango nanny sentenced to jail for child abuse

A jury convicted Carmen Pastor of force-feeding 17-month-old boy

A Durango nanny convicted of force-feeding a 17-month-old boy, causing injuries and making him vomit, was sentenced Friday to five years probation and 60 days in jail.

Carmen Cecilia Pastor, 41, showed no obvious signs of emotion as La Plata County Judge Reid Stewart handed down the sentence.

Pastor

Pastor has maintained her innocence and, speaking through her attorney, said she plans to appeal her conviction.

Her jail sentence will likely be suspended pending appeal.

A jury convicted Pastor in late September of child abuse causing injury, a misdemeanor.

According to court records and testimony, the 17-month-old boy was covered in vomit and had fingertip-sized bruising on his cheeks when his mother picked him up Feb. 28 from Pastor’s unlicensed day care, which she operated out of her home.

The parents immediately filed a report with child protective services and took the boy to a pediatrician the next day. The pediatrician found oral trauma, including a torn lip frenulum, which is a flap of skin between the upper lip and gum.

Pastor said she had to force-feed the child a grilled cheese sandwich and the child threw up “in protest,” according to an arrest affidavit.

The boy’s mother said the abuse “has been the most traumatic experience we’ve ever gone through.”

“My sweet little baby was so young and small that he was physically incapable of defending himself from this predator,” she told the judge.

She said the emotional pain inflicted on her family has outlasted her son’s physical injuries, with the exception of the boy’s torn frenulum – which will be forever torn. She spoke of sleepless nights, her son’s fearful behavior in the company of strangers and the need for her family to seek therapy.

“While he cannot tell us how terrified, shocked and violated he felt when she attacked him, we could ascertain from the change in his behavior that he had experienced a serious emotional trauma,” she said, reading from a statement.

She asked that the court do whatever it can to protect other children.

“She has shown that she does not have the emotional tools to manage her own anger without taking it out on others,” the mother said.

District Attorney Felicia Charles said Pastor takes no accountability for her actions and lacks the emotional capacity to care for children.

Charles asked Stewart to impose a sentence that would allow for self-introspection on Pastor’s part and also send a message to the community.

Pastor’s public defense lawyer, Scott VanZandt, said it is clear the child experienced physical trauma, but he reiterated that his client maintains her innocence. He said she has no criminal history, is well-educated and is a former business owner.

He said she has already paid dearly as a result of the criminal case and ensuing publicity. She has lost her housing and is no longer able to recruit clients for child care. Jail would only exacerbate her problems, which seems unfair for a first-time offender, he said.

Pastor offered no apology and declined to address the court before sentencing.

Stewart said he is concerned about Pastor’s denial and defensiveness. He said he listened to testimony during the 1½ day trial and found the evidence supported the conviction.

He became choked up when reflecting on the harm inflicted on a child, saying he too is a parent.

shane@durangoherald.com



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