– Jackson, MS

BEND, OR – After nearly one dozen parents testified against her, a daycare owner who drugged numerous children on melatonin then left them alone to go for a tan or exercise was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison.

It was an emotional day in court Friday, as parents faced January Neatherlin, whom the parents had trusted with their children, and told the judge why she deserved a full sentence.

One family said their daughter suffered a brain injury, consistent with shaken baby syndrome, while in Neatherlin’s care.

Other parents told stories of their children struggling to sleep after their time with Neatherlin, who fed them melatonin while she went tanning and to the gym.

“She repeatedly administered a sleeping agent to a room full of infants, toddlers and children and drove off in her car to fulfill her narcissistic needs. There is no room in our society for monsters like this. January has no respect for human life,” one parent said.

Prosecutors, who asked for a 35-year prison term, called Neatherlin’s crimes more than just criminal mistreatment, saying the daycare owner had a history of criminal activity.

Neatherlin read a statement in court, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. She also said she had failed as a caretaker and as a parent to her own children.

“Everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody takes responsibility for those mistakes. With that said, I hope the court and the parents accept my apology. I made a very poor call, and it has forever changed my life and even ended it,” she said.

When handing down the sentence, Judge Wells Ashby highlighted the carnage Neatherlin had caused for the families, noting several were still dealing with the aftermath, including broken relationships, behavioral problems and financial struggles.