2 years after being found guilty of child endangerment, Iowa woman tries to open day care

DES MOINES, Iowa - Over two years ago, Cindy Holt pleaded guilty to child endangerment causing bodily injury. Now the ex-day care operator is trying to get back in business, and the mother whose child was hurt is trying to make sure it never happens again.

“I kinda thought I’m going to be able to go on with my life. I’m not going to have to deal with this. I haven’t heard about it in two years,” Emalie Cipale said. “Then it’s just a normal Sunday night, and it pops back up.”

Cipale said two years after the sentencing of her former day care provider, she was finally beginning to move on. In 2016 Cipale’s now 3-year-old daughter, Harper, was found under the care of Cindy Holt with bite marks all over her body. Now, Cipale said those feelings she felt that day are all coming back.

“Every emotion, from being angry, to shocked, to crying, to instantly wanting to hold Harper,” Cipale said.

That’s what Cipale felt when she came to pick up her then 9-month-old daughter from day care back in August 2016 and human bite marks all over her baby from another child Holt was watching. Holt said it happened while she was napping.

“They turn Harper around and Cindy says ‘I’m sorry’ and after that, I’ve been asked what was said, and I don’t remember because all I wanted was Harper and I wanted out,” Cipale said.

Cindy Holt pleaded guilty to child endangerment causing bodily injury, and her daughter Amanda Holt pleaded guilty to child endangerment.

“So I’m going out on a limb here, and going to give you you're deferred judgement,” Judge Robert Hanson said on sentencing day in February 2017.

Instead of jail time, the deferred judgement involved a sentence of two years' probation.

“But you know that does not come with no strings attached,” Hanson said.

Holt gave an emotional response.

“I want you to know that I do not plan on doing day care again,” Holt said. “I do not want my family or any other family to go through this again.”

Two years later, with her probation complete, Holt is now posting her day care openings in Altoona. She’s using multiple aliases, but saying the same thing, stating she already has a small day care with five children and is looking to expand.

“I just really hope she’s not still watching five kids,” Cipale said.

Cipale won’t ever forget what happened to her child, but other parents seeing the Facebook ads would have no idea. Holt’s records were expunged. The child endangerment charge no longer appears on the online court system.

“I hope and pray these parents have heard this, someone's told them, 'Hey you need to look at this. You need to read this. You need to know what’s going on,'" Cipale said.

Cipale is making sure other parents know what's going on, taking things into her own hands online.

“Does another child have to get hurt? Does another child have to be put in danger for this woman to finally be shut down?” Cipale asked.

Both Cipale and WHO reached out to DHS and have not heard back. WHO also reached out to Cindy and Amanda Holt and did not hear back.

WHO looked through the list of hundreds of in-home day cares in Polk County and could not find one under Cindy Holt's name or aliases, but DHS does not require day cares to be registered if they have five or fewer children.

These posts first appeared Sunday, and her most recent attempt at an ad on Facebook was Wednesday afternoon.

Holt could be one of the 50,000 Iowans listed on the Child Abuse Registry list, but that is also not available for the public to view.

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