Kids Kept in Day Care's Basement Remain "Fearful" As Business Owner Sentenced to 6 Years

A day care owner was convicted of 26 counts of misdemeanor child abuse after secretly keeping 26 children in her basement, as two years later the victims are still suffering from the trauma.

Carla Faith was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday after parents of victims explained the ongoing trauma Faith caused.

Kim Marshall, parent, said that both of her children are still receiving counseling two years after the incident.

"We sleep with the lights on in our house. My kids are anxious. They are fearful of the world," Marshall said.

Faith was licensed to run a day care, but only for a maximum of six children, only two younger than 2 years old. Behind a false wall in her home that led to the basement staircase, Faith had 25 children, 12 of which were less than 2 years old, and two employees hidden underneath.

When police arrived at the scene after reports of Faith having more children in her day care than allowed, she told them there was no basement, and no children currently in the house. The police heard crying and children's music, discovering the secret staircase.

Josh Tolini, Faith's lawyer, said Faith had difficulty saying "no" to parents who wanted to place their children in her day care, and that the situation snowballed from there.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Daycare owner convicted
A day care owner was convicted of 26 counts of misdemeanor child abuse after secretly keeping 26 children in her basement, as two years later the victims are still suffering from the trauma. Photo of Carla Faith from the El Paso County, Colo., Sheriff's Office. El Paso County Sheriff's Office/Associated Press

There were two adult employees supervising them in the basement and one of them, Valerie Fresquez, accepted a plea deal and testified at Faith's trial, KRDO-TV reported. The 26th child who had been in the basement was picked up by a parent while police were at the day care, authorities said.

Many of the children had soiled or wet diapers and were sweaty and thirsty, according to an arrest affidavit.

At Faith's sentencing on Thursday, parents of the children and relatives filled the courtroom, telling the judge that their children have suffered trauma since being at the day care, citing sleep and anxiety issues, KOAA-TV reported.

She made some "incredibly poor decisions about how to do this," Tolini said.

KRDO-TV reported that charges against Fresquez will be dropped if she meets some unspecified steps.

Day care employee Christina Swauger was convicted of the same charges as Faith and awaits sentencing.

An arrest warrant has been issued for another former day care employee who failed to appear in court, said Howard Black, a spokesperson for the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Colorado.