Sentencing postponed for daycare operator who pleaded guilty to abuse

Update 8-1-14

A Knox County daycare worker accused of keeping five kids in a hot attic will have to wait longer to be sentenced.

Court officials tell us Larinda Tuttle's case was continued on Friday to September 5th.

In May, she pleaded guilty to second degree criminal abuse and theft of identity of another without consent.

Tuttle was arrested in July 2012 after police say the children all younger than eight were found alone at the daycare.

Larinda Tuttle was accused of leaving a bunch of kids in a hot attic with dead animals, broken glass and exposed nails. After those allegations first aired, she told WKYT and WYMT she was not guilty.

But Wednesday, she admitted to an amended charge.

It’s been almost two years since Larinda Tuttle spent time in jail after police said she left five kids..all less than eight years old, in an attic at her Great Start Daycare on Allison Avenue.

She told us then that the case was blown out of proportion, that the allegations were inaccurate, and that she would never hurt a child.

“The only side of the story that you’re hearing is what they saw, or what they think they believe they saw, or what people have made up,” Tuttle said in the July 23, 2012 interview.

But today she pleaded guilty to criminal abuse second degree and theft of identity of another without consent.

Police say the children were found scared and distraught in the 102 degree attic when state officials went to investigate a complaint that the day care wasn’t licensed.

She was originally charged with criminal abuse first degree, but the plea deal lessened the offense to criminal abuse second degree.

“Criminal abuse in the first degree requires an intentional act, criminal abuse in the second degree requires wanton conduct. That’s the primary difference between the two,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Brandon Jones.

Tuttle faced other counts but all but one were dismissed with the plea deal. The prosecutor is recommending a two year prison sentence.

Had the case gone to trial, and Tuttle been found guilty of criminal abuse first, she could have faced one to five years in prison.

Tuttle’s final sentencing has been set for August 1.

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