Date: January 31, 2001 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Michal Shanley, 863 534-6631 or 819-0397 pager
Frostproof Woman Arrested for Child Abuse

Polk County Sheriff's Office Detectives arrested a 56-year-old Frostproof woman this afternoon (Wednesday, Jan, 31, 2001) and charged her with child abuse for the serious injury of a 12-month-old infant in her care. 

Juanita Roper, DOB 8/1/44, of 23 Sharon Street in Frostproof, was arrested at approximately 4:35 p.m. this afternoon at her residence without incident. She is charged with Aggravated Child Abuse (F1) and Operating an In-home Day Care Without a License (M1). She is being booked into the Polk County Jail. 

The charges stem from an incident that occurred Nov. 29, 2000, at Roper's Frostproof home in which a 12-month-old boy received head injuries, resulting in a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage. According to detectives, the child was left in Roper's care at around 7 a.m. Roper had been providing paid day care for the child and other children in her home (no other children were in the home at the time of the injury). Roper does not have a license to operate an in-home day care. 

At approximately 9 a.m., Roper placed a 911 call reporting that the child was unresponsive. The infant was transported to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg for treatment. Medical examination by Dr. Sally Smith, M.D., of the Suncoast Child Protection Team concluded that the victim had "suffered abusive head trauma with a high impact to the back of his head. Dr. Smith also determined that the "injury occurred just prior to the onset of the symptoms, so in the care of the babysitter." The injuries were consistent with the child having been shaken. 

During the investigation, Roper gave detectives inconsistent versions of what happened while the child was in her care.

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Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

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