Felony charges for West Palm daycare center director over abuse

Arrest made under new state law

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Police in West Palm Beach have for the first time made an arrest under a new state law that makes it a felony to not report child abuse.

The law was passed in the wake of the Penn State child abuse scandal.

Police say that Patricia Furlow, the director of Kidz Keleidescope daycare, did not report abuse of a 23-month-old.

They say she had been documenting burn marks, bruises and insect bites on a 23-month-old for weeks, and didn't report it.

"It's a little bit shocking. But I've seen that she does take care of the kids and is on top of things," said the parent of a child at the daycare, Fidel Gonzalez.

Police say that starting on June 26th, workers at Kidz Keleidescope noticed burns and bruises on the boy. 

Police say Furlow told staff to make notes of it. No one answered the door to respond to those allegations.

"She took steps to record it, she just didn't report it," said Allan Ortman, a spokesman for West Palm Beach Police.

And starting on July 1st, that's a felony.

State lawmakers passed the law in April in reaction to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, where investigators say powerful people at the university didn't report to police what they knew about Sandusky.

"Florida really is taking a hard line," said legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Michelle Suskauer. "If they don't report abuse to the proper authorities, it's very possible that child or children can be subject to further abuse."

In this case, police say that the toddler's mother, 19-year-old Allie Sopwith, is charged with child neglect, also a felony.

Police have not made any arrests in the actual abuse of the child, and say it did not happen on the daycare's property.

They call this arrest a landmark one, one of the first under a new law.

"It should be a wakeup call to everyone who runs a daycare," said Ortman.

Gonzalez says he still has full faith in Kidz Kaleidescope. He'll still leave his toddler there five days a week.

"Everything seems clean, she's taking care of the kids. I think there's been a misunderstanding."

The person who answered the phone at Kidz Kaleidescope said the daycare would have the owners call back, but  no return call was ever made.

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