LOGAN — A jury has found the co-owner of a North Logan daycare, accused of child abuse, not guilty. Craig Petith walked out of the courtroom following Wednesday night’s verdict, hugging his wife and shaking his attorney’s hand.
Petith was arrested in December 2016 after an employee of Brenda’s Daycare claimed to hear the 48-year-old man slap a three-year-old boy on the face. Prosecutors later charged him with child abuse, a class A misdemeanor.
Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Kevin Vander Werff said they were pleased with the jury’s verdict. He explained that it has been a long 18-months to finally bring closure to the case.
“From day one, it has been a situation where he [Petith] felt this was something that didn’t rise to the level of child abuse,” said Vander Werff. “The mother of this child had talked specifically about this kind of discipline that could take place. So we are really happy that the jury saw it that way. Instead of falling into the trap of the county attorneys who say, ‘any contact is abuse.’ So we are obviously with the fact that the jury listened to the arguments and that’s what we’re most pleased by.”
The verdict came in 1st District Court, following the one-day trial. The jury announced their decision just after 8:30 p.m. after deliberating for almost two-hours.
Police began investigating Craig and Brenda Petith after receiving the child abuse neglect report from the Division of Child and Family Services. The report alleged multiple incidents of child abuse.
Vander Werff said, from the beginning of the investigation, it seemed like North Park police would not listen to his client’s side of the story.
“We even had little Jackson’s mother [the victim’s mother], try to talk to anybody who would listen, including Barbara Lachmar from the County Attorney’s Office, and they all just blew her off. So again, I think this will also be vindication for Jackson’s mother.”
The boy’s mother told the court during the trial, she asked the Petiths to “pop” the boy in the mouth to get the child’s attention. She explained she and her husband used the same tactic at home.
Brenda Petith still faces a similar trial. The 46-year-old woman is charged with two counts of child abuse, also class A misdemeanors. Her case is scheduled to be heard by a jury July 26-27.