Woman who ran day care center sentenced, sued

By The Associated Press

NOBLESVILLE — A woman who ran a day care center in an affluent Indianapolis suburb was sentenced Tuesday to 2½ years in jail in the death of a 5-month-old boy.

Stacey Cox will likely be released by April because of a combination of credit for time served and days suspended, The Indianapolis Star reported. Cox, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, also faces one year of work release and 180 days of probation.

She also is being sued by John Tilson Jr. and Britney Killea, the parents of 5-month-old Conor Tilson, who died in January in the unlicensed home day care center in Carmel. The state Family and Social Services Administration also is a defendant in the lawsuit.

Cox was found guilty last month of involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor deception and operating a child care home without a license. Deputy Prosecutor Matt Kestian said in closing arguments during Cox’s trial last month that Conor suffocated because Cox left him in a broken playpen with an oversized blanket.

The boy’s father, John Tilson Jr., told the newspaper the sentence feels like a “slap on the wrist.”

The lawsuit filed Nov. 8 in Hamilton County Superior Court says Conor died “while sleeping unattended in a hazardous and unsafe environment.” The lawsuit also contends Cox, the FSSA and other defendants “knew or reasonably should have known” about those conditions.

Cox’s defense attorney, Steve Stoesz, did not immediately return a message to The Associated Press for comment Tuesday.

FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons said the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The newspaper reported in October that state inspectors with the FSSA had been alerted to issues at the day care months before Conor died Jan. 24, but they were limited in what they could do to correct the problems because of state law.

The lawsuit says the child’s parents did not know Cox was under investigation by the FSSA.

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