Minnesota daycare provider sentenced to 90 days in jail, maintains innocence

- Convicted of assault -- a crime she says she didn't commit – an Eagan, Minnesota daycare provider facing up to eight years in prison was given a much more lenient sentence Thursday morning. Mariel Grimm, 33, received a stayed sentence and will spend 90 days in county jail, with 15 years of probation.

Grimm has maintained her innocence. Despite her assertions, a court found her guilty of assaulting a toddler. Grimm was caring for the 13-month-old boy last September when she says he suddenly had some kind of seizure after waking up from a nap.

The boy survived, but suffered permanent brain damage. Dr. Mark Hudson, a board certified expert in child abuse, said the boy was “not expected to survive longer than a week” and that the injuries were caused by “possible shaking or traumatic fall.” But Grimm says she did nothing wrong.

"We're all left with so many questions, but I know nothing happened here,” Grimm told Fox 9. “He was never left alone with my kids. There was never an accident of any kind. I was watching him and he slept most of the day.”

The Dakota County courtroom was at capacity for Thursday morning’s sentencing hearing, with several Grimm supporters in the hallway, pressing their ears up against the courtroom. The court received 52 letters of support for the daycare provider, and nearly two dozen of Grimm’s neighbors signed a petition asking for her conviction to be thrown out, or for leniency at sentencing.

The judge stayed Grimm's sentence of 86 months. If she violates terms of her probation after release from county jail, she could still serve prison time.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Daycare provider facing prison time claims she didn't injure child

Fox 9: “Where do you think these injuries happened?”

Grimm: "I know where they happened, at home.”

Fox 9: “At his home?”

Grimm: “Yes."

The boy's parents told police their son had "bonked" his head at home three times the day before, including when he fell and hit the back of his head on a wood floor.

According to the police report, there was no sign of trauma. At the hospital, doctors removed part of the boy’s skull to relieve the pressure on his brain.

At Grimm’s trial in July, expert witnesses couldn't say exactly how the injury occurred and disagreed on when. Dr. Donald Chadwick, a pediatric neurologist, said CT scans show the injury was mostly on the left side of the brain, unusual in a shaken baby case and they may have happened before the child reached daycare. But Dr. Hudson testified “the symptoms would have been apparent immediately after he suffered head trauma,” after he had been dropped off at daycare. Dr. Hudson also said such head trauma from a short fall was, “exceedingly unlikely.”

A jury found Grimm guilty of first degree assault. Thursday morning, the judge denied a defense motion for acquittal and their plea for a new trial.

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