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Tampa day care center's owner again faces child-abuse charges

TAMPA — Four years ago, a day care operator relinquished her license after police accused her of shaking a baby and bruising his brain.

On Wednesday, she was arrested again, at a day care center she told police she owns.

This time, police say Dorothy Ann Sampson-Monroe hit four children, ages 3 to 5, on their buttocks, legs and faces.

When officers arrived at Just for Kids Day Care, 2304 E Busch Blvd., they were greeted at an unlocked door by an unsupervised toddler in a diaper, Tampa police said.

"I'm just disappointed that she was allowed to operate this kind of facility again," said Earl Hall, the father of the boy who was injured in 2005.

Sampson-Monroe, 47, has been arrested 16 times in Florida, state records show. In 1991, a judge sentenced her to two years in prison on felony cocaine charges. Another drug conviction followed in 1995.

Florida law disqualifies people from getting a child care license if they've been convicted of serious crimes such as murder, aggravated assault, sexual misconduct or felony drug charges.

But exemptions are granted, and Sampson-Monroe got one.

In 2004, when she first asked to be licensed, the state said no.

The following January, she convinced the Florida Department of Children and Families that she had changed her ways.

"I'm a woman of God," she wrote in her application for an exemption, describing a stable home life with a husband and three grown daughters.

The plea worked. By May 2005, she had permission to care for as many as 10 children in her home.

Two months later, police were called to University Community Hospital, where Melanie Hall brought her baby son after finding him lethargic and unresponsive. Sampson-Monroe had been watching him, the mother told police.

Police charged Sampson-Monroe with aggravated battery on a child.

The criminal case got little traction. Public records show prosecutors dropped the charge. Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi did not have the details Thursday but promised to get them.

The boy is now 4 ½ years old. His father says he's healthy. The Halls reached a settlement agreement last year with Sampson-Monroe to help cover medical expenses.

DCF spokesman Nick Cox said the agency tried to repeal the exemption that allowed Sampson-Monroe to operate a child care facility. But when the criminal case fell apart, there was nothing DCF could do and let her license stand.

"The process for disqualifying personnel is that there has to be a conviction," said Linda Stoller, manager of the Hillsborough County Child Care Licensing Program.

Sampson-Monroe could not be reached for comment Thursday. No one was at her 1805 E Rampart St. address and she could not be reached by phone.

Law enforcement records show she also goes by the last names of Jenkins, Sampson, King and Monroe.

Children called her "Miss Ann," police said.

Officers arrested her at the day care at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, responding to allegations that children had been inappropriately punished.

Records show she was released from Orient Road Jail about 12 hours later after posting $8,000 bail.

Officials from the Hillsborough County Child Care Licensing Program and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Child Protective Investigations Division returned to the day care Thursday to continue investigating, said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

Stoller, the licensing program manager, said the center was inadequately staffed on Wednesday.

Few details were released about the latest abuse allegations.

By Thursday, Stoller said, staff members who had been appropriately screened were watching the children. Investigators felt comfortable that the children were safe, she said.

Authorities are attempting to establish who owns Just for Kids.

Sampson-Monroe told police on Thursday that she was the owner. And public records show that in 2008, she applied to incorporate Just for Kids Centers LLC.

But on the license application filed with Stoller's office on Nov. 26, the owner was listed as Carol C. Maultsby.

Contacted by phone, Maultsby said Thursday was the first she heard her name was listed as owner.

"I am not the owner," she said.

Maultsby said she knew Sampson-Monroe casually from First Baptist Church of College Hill, where they both attended.

The two agreed to enter into a business relationship, but it had nothing to do with a day care, Maultsby said.

Rather, Maultsby would open a day spa next door to Just for Kids and pay Sampson-Monroe for use of the space. Maultsby said she backed out of the agreement less than a week after moving in. Sampson-Monroe wanted to charge her double the agreed-upon price.

Before the plan fizzled, Maultsby said, Sampson-Monroe asked her to sign a document for insurance purposes.

"I really didn't know this was placing me as a part owner of the Day Care Business," Maultsby wrote in a hand-written letter she faxed to Stoller's office Thursday. "I am in no way associated with the Just for Kids, Inc."

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Steven Overly contributed to this report.

To check licensing

Want to know whether your day care is properly licensed? Here's where to go.

Pinellas County License Board for Children's Centers and Family Day Care Homes: (727) 507-4857;

Hillsborough County Child Care Licensing Program: (813) 272-6487;

Pasco County – Department of Children and Families Suncoast Region Circuit 6: Mary Beth Wehnes, (813) 558-1067;

Hernando County – Department of Children and Families Circuit 5: Marsha Carpenter, (352) 330-2177;

Tampa day care center's owner again faces child-abuse charges 06/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 22, 2009 7:27am]
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