A Lake Mills home daycare provider recently charged with child abuse is suspected of committing the same crime in 2015.
Amanda J. McGowan, 30, has been charged in Jefferson County Circuit Court with one count of child abuse-recklessly causing harm to a child who was in her care in March. The then-4-month-old infant sustained head trauma from an unknown incident.
Authorities now say McGowan was under investigation by the Lake Mills Police Department and Jefferson County Human Services for possibly abusing a 6-month-old child under her care in May 2015.
According to a police report, the 2015 case arose after Kelly Ganzow of Jefferson County Human Services told Lake Mills Police Officer Doug Messmann May 14, 2015, she had received information about a 6-month-old girl who might have been the victim of child abuse.
The mother of the girl reportedly took her daughter to the Meriter Clinic to have her checked for allergies, and the physician noticed bruising on the lower jawline, a small abrasion on her left eyelid and red spots in each of the child’s eyes.
According to the report, McGowan had told the mother the mark came from a toy mounted on a childseat and that the 6-month-old had flung her head forward and struck the toy. McGowan also told the mother the red spots in the child’s eyes came from excessive crying.
However, after an MRI was done at Children’s Hospital in Madison May 16, 2015, doctors determined the 6-month-old had a contusion on her skull, as well as two hematomas, or brain bleeds.
Doctors told Ganzow two days later that this was consistent with being shaken or thrown onto either a hard of soft surface. The doctors said they believed the brain bleeds occurred three days prior to the MRI, while the contusion might have occurred approximately a week to a week-and-a-half before the MRI.
When Messmann met with the child’s mother May 19, 2015, according to the police report, she said she had no inclinations that McGowan could have caused the injuries to her child.
Messmann met with McGowan the same day, and she expressed surprise and concern over the baby’s injuries. McGowan said she could not recall anything that might have happened to cause these injuries and said she would be willing to take a CVSA voice-stress analysis test.
However, 10 minutes after McGowan left, the report said Messmann received a call from McGowan, who said she remembered something that might help. McGowan said she went home to find her boyfriend, Nick Roedl, throwing her 7-month-old son in the air. McGowan recalled she had done this with the 6-month-old a month ago.
When asked by Messmann in another interview later that day, McGowan said she had forgotten about throwing of the child until she saw Roedl doing it with her son.
McGowan said the 6-month-old probably hit McGowan’s thumb, which would have caused the bruise on the child’s chin. When asked why she neglected to tell police this, McGowan said she had forgotten.
Earlier in the interview, McGowan had told Messmann she had carpel tunnel in her hands that made it difficult to hold the 6-month-old, but she could toss her in the air for a short period of time.
Ganzow confirmed with the medical staff at Children’s Hospital the doctors felt McGowan’s actions were not consistent with the severity of the child’s injuries.
“(McGowan’s) story did not match up with the injuries described by the doctors,” Lake Mills Police Chief Pat Matuszewski said. “This is the same thing with the 2016 case.”
On May 21, 2015, Messmann met with Roedl, who said he didn’t believe McGowan would hurt the 6-month-old intentionally.
The next week, on May 28, 2015, McGowan and Roedl went to the Lake Mills Police Department as Jefferson County Sheriff Office Detective Chad Garcia was there to administer the CVSA test McGowan had agreed to take part in during her first interview.
McGowan and Roedl reportedly became upset after being told about the CVSA test, and Roedl told Messmann they were leaving because he hadn’t told McGowan about the test. Eventually, they both left and Roedl said he and McGowan would be getting a lawyer.
According to the report, the next day, the father of the child told Messmann, based on their lawyer’s advice, neither he nor his wife would be taking a CVSA test, despite both having said in their original interviews they would submit to a test.
The case was forwarded to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, and in conjunction with Lake Mills police and Jefferson County Human Services, they determined the case was unfounded and would not move forward with charges to any of the parties involved.
Lake Mills Police Chief Pat Matuszewski said the 2015 case wasn’t as clear-cut as the 2016 case, and therefore, no charges were brought against McGowan despite her explanation for the injuries to the child not matching up with the doctor’s report.
“There wasn’t enough evidence brought forth throughout the investigation to establish probable cause and substantiate charging anyone,” Matuszewski said of the 2015 case. “There are some similarities with McGowan’s actions in the 2015 case and the 2016 case.”
Matuszewski said officers ran into barriers the investigating the 2015 case that caused the District Attorney’s Office to decline pressing charges against anyone, and his department didn’t overlook this case.
“The officer wasn’t getting full cooperation. The parents could not believe their daycare provider would do something like this,” Matuszewski said. “We couldn’t get any of the parties involved to submit to a CVSA test. That would have helped determine where to go with this case. The parents would have better served in this case to take the CVSA test because that would have helped to narrow down the suspects.”
The 2015 case is not closed, however. With charges from the 2016 case advancing in court, Matuszewski said, he expects his officers will take another look at the 2015 case.
McGowan’s next court date in the 2016 case is her preliminary hearing, scheduled for Nov. 22.