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County attorney sues unlicensed child care provider

COTTAGE GROVE — A Cottage Grove woman allegedly had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12% when police found 12 children at her unlicensed day care facility, according to court papers.

Megan Martin was given a preliminary breathalyzer test Feb. 25 after an officer smelled alcohol on her breath, according to an initial complaint report. Minnesota law considers a driver impaired at 0.08%.

The Washington County Attorney's Office announced Monday that it has sued Martin to prevent her from endangering other children.

In a press release, County Attorney Pete Orput characterized the suit as one of the first of its kind in Minnesota. In an unusual move, his office has obtained a temporary restraining order against Martin.

According to a statement of probable cause filed in the 10th Judicial District Court, a Cottage Grove police officer executed a search warrant of Martin's Granada Avenue home Feb. 25.

The initial complaint report states that the officer found 12 small children, including three who were strapped into their car seats with blankets over them. It also states:

• The home had no working smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors.

• The officer found uncovered cat feces and open drawers that were within reach of children that contained chemicals, alcohol and sharp objects. None of the drawers had child locks.

• Martin admitted that she left the children alone while she showered or applied makeup. She told police that she had run the unlicensed daycare center for about five years.

Police obtained the warrant Feb. 20 after receiving a tip that led them to the website sitter.com. They found an ad that was posted by "Megan M" that promoted full and part-time child services.

In all, authorities found at least 17 violations that Martin would be cited for if she was a licensed childcare provider.

Parents of the children in Martin's care were contacted immediately and removed their children from the home.

The case remains under review for potential criminal charges, Orput said. But as an additional precaution, the County Attorney's Office, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, will go to court May 10 to ask to make the current temporary restraining order permanent.

Martin is charged with neglect of a child, a gross misdemeanor under Minnesota Statute 609.378.1(a)(1), and operating a child care facility without a license, a misdemeanor.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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