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SB woman pleads no contest to abusing her four adopted kids


SB woman pleads no contest to abusing her four adopted kids

January 12, 2007

Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP) -- A former day care operator charged with caging two of her four adopted children and keeping a third in filthy conditions unexpectedly pleaded no contest for abusing her kids.

Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez entered the plea Thursday as a jury was about to picked in her trial. If the felonies are reduced to misdemeanors, she faces up to a year in jail instead of the possible 10 years in prison if convicted by a jury on all counts, authorities said.

Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa released her until sentencing in March despite prosecution pleas to keep her jailed on $1 million bail. A sentencing hearing starts March 12 and could last a week.

Ochoa ruled that Vasquez could have contact with her children — ages 6, 9, 12, and 13 — under the supervision of child welfare officials. Vasquez will also be monitored electronically.

Besides the no contest pleas involving three of the children, Vasquez pleaded no contest to a fourth felony count of injecting one of the children with a puberty-blocking drug Lupron.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger said the no contest plea was a "painful decision."

"Ms. Vasquez entered this plea, in part, because she is very concerned about her children," Sanger said. "She wants to get this over with and move onto the next stage."

Senior District Attorney Joyce Dudley said she did not offer a plea bargain in this case.

"The judge indicated if she pled at this time that she would not serve any more than one year in the County Jail," the prosecutor said.

Vasquez, 50 was accused of abusing her four children at various times over a three-year period that ended early last year when a neighbor contacted law enforcement. The day care business in her Foothill Road home was shut down when she was arrested on Jan. 6, 2006.

2007 Jan 12