Judge's order to day care owner: No caring for children

Stephanie Gribble accused of drugging children

INDIANAPOLIS - A judge has ordered a day care operator accused of drugging kids in her care to not supervise children, other than her own, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney has learned.

Judge Mark Stoner issued the order Thursday for Stephanie Gribble, saying she can have no care-giving responsibilities for minor children other than her own children.

"The Defendant may have contact with other minor children provided there is another adult person having legal custody of, or legal responsibility for the children personally present at all times," read the court order.

Gribble, an unlicensed day care operator, is charged with six felony counts of neglect of a dependent after four children from her day care were hospitalized from apparent drug overdoses, including Teresa Rhodes' two granddaughters, ages 2 and 5 .

The 5-year-old girl was displaying signs of a depressed central nervous system, including swollen tongue, clenched fists and loss of body control, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The 2-year-old girl passed out completely and would not wake up.

Gribble is scheduled for a hearing on April 22 at 1 p.m.

Prosecutors say at least six children in Gribble's care were drugged, with at least four needing hospitalization.

"Anytime a parent leaves their responsibility with another individual, they have a right to expect a basic level of care," said Kristina Korobov, special victims supervisor with the prosecutor's office. "No matter where you leave your child, there is never an excuse to do what is alleged in these particular facts."

According to the probable cause, an 11-month-old girl in Gribble's care "appeared drunk, wasn't responding when spoken to … there were bubbles of spit coming from her mouth, she was swaying back and forth and she was grunting."

A fourth child, a 5-year-old boy, was taken to the emergency room when he was found acting odd and drooling.

"He was sitting there with his head hanging down sideways onto his chest with his tongue hanging out and drool coming from his mouth. The entire front of his shirt was soaked with his own drool. He couldn't talk at all and was shaking a little," according to court documents.

Prosecutors say parents need to do their research, as Gribble was operating without a license.

"This is not the first time we've heard about unlicensed day cares, and there being an issue with them and the lack of monitoring," said Korobov.

As the Call 6 Investigators have reported, unlicensed day cares do not have to submit to background checks or do CPR training, safe sleep training or drug testing.

Doctors at Community Health North Hospital consulted with Poison Control and determined the most likely cause of the children's symptoms was an overdose of anticholinergic drugs -- medications commonly found in sleep aids and cold medications.

Doctors determined the most likely candidates for the source of the overdose were Benadryl and Risperidone.

According to court documents, the children told investigators that Gribble would regularly give them "grape medicine" before nap time to help them sleep. A 4-year-old who attended the day care, but was not hospitalized, told police that Gribble had given her OCD medication intended for Gribble's 8-year-old son.

Another child said Gribble had given her a pink pill to eat and purple liquid to drink.

Both Risperidone and Benadryl sometimes come in the form of a pink pill. Benadryl is also sometimes sold in the form of a purple liquid.

During a search of Gribble's home, which doubled as the day care business, police found an empty 30 mL bottle of Risperidone, an empty bottle of grape-flavored "Assured" brand children's night time cold and cough medicine and a small oral syringe used to administer medication by mouth.

The active ingredient in the cold and cough medicine is Diphenhydramine, which is marketed under the trade name Benadryl.

Police said Gribble initially denied giving any medication to the children, but eventually said she had given two of the children cold medicine because they had "runny noses."

She also admitted to giving the 2-year-old child medicine because "she was crying so much."

Gribble said her son had been prescribed Risperidone for his OCD, but couldn't account for the bottle being empty when the prescription had been filled just three days before.

Risperidone, an anti-psychotic drug that affects neurotransmitters in the brain, can cause seizures and other potentially deadly side effects, according to Indiana Poison Control's Dr. Jerry Snow.

"[It is] extremely reckless and irresponsible for a day care provider to give young children in her care any amount of Risperidone that wasn't prescribed to them," Snow said.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney had been looking into Stephanie Gribble, formerly Stephanie Smith, for several weeks and learned Gribble has a history with the Family and Social Services Administration dating back to 2008.

In November 2012, the Attorney General's Office obtained an injunction for a then-named Stephanie Smith to stop her

from operating an illegal day care at 11328 Stoeppelwerth Drive in Indianapolis.

Marni Lemons, a spokeswoman for the Family and Social Services Administration, told Kenney on Jan. 29 the agency followed up and Smith appeared to have moved out of the residence.

When an illegal day care is issued a cease-and-desist letter, it is warned the attorney general may seek a civil penalty of $100 a day for each day of operating without a license.

The state is still attempting to collect $3,300 in civil penalties from Gribble/Smith.

"It is important that parents understand the licensing process and that they be vigilant about ensuring that their children are being cared for by licensed providers that are operating legally," Lemons said. "For example, child care providers operating out of a home must be licensed if they care for more than five unrelated children. FSSA provides information on licensed and registered providers at www.childcarefinder.in.gov ."

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