03/12/2018 16:44 EDT | Updated 03/12/2018 18:11 EDT

January Neatherlin, Illegal Daycare Owner Who Drugged Kids To Go Tanning, Gets Jail Sentence

She told the children's parents that she failed them.

Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
January Neatherlin, 32, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for drugging kids at an illegal daycare centre so she could go to the gym or to a tanning salon.

A 32-year-old Oregon woman was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for drugging kids at her illegal daycare so she could go to a tanning salon or to the gym.

January Neatherlin was arrested in March 2017 after police in Bend, Ore., acting on tips from a former boyfriend and roommate, found seven unattended children in her home, the Bend Bulletin reported. Neatherlin's residence had been an unlicensed centre called Little Giggles Daycare for five years.

Prosecutors, who were seeking a 35-year sentence, accused her of forcing the children to take melatonin to induce sleep. They said that she told parents they weren't allowed to visit the daycare between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., a period she referred to as "nap time," according to The Oregonian.

Neatherlin pleaded guilty last month to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third-degree assault.

"There is something broken and something missing in you," Judge Wells Ashby told her at the sentencing hearing last week.

Parents and family of some of the children who were in Neatherlin's care were in the courtroom.

Neatherlin: I 'failed' parents

"I don't know what's wrong with the defendant; I don't know what could bring a person to do what she's done to the most helpless and innocent people in our society," Les Adams, a grandfather of one of the kids, said at the sentencing hearing.

"But I hope she can understand that she damn near killed the easiest, happiest, most easygoing baby I've ever known in my life."

Neatherlin offered a tearful apology in the courtroom, according to KTVZ. She told parents she "failed" them and loved the children as if they were her own.

"Everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody takes responsibility for those mistakes," she said. "With that said, I pray that the court and the parents accept my apology, It was never my intention to put any of your children at risk of injury or harm."

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