Should woman be caring for kids? Loudon resident still at it after child abuse charge, DHS citation

By HUGH G. WILLETT, News Sentinel
April 17, 2007

LOUDON - A Loudon woman indicted on a child abuse charge had been cited by the Department of Human Services for running an unlicensed day care center and was still caring for children in her home following her arrest last week.

Misty Cosner, 30, was charged with especially aggravated child abuse and neglect, according to a TBI press release. She turned herself in Wednesday to the Loudon County Sheriff's Office and was released the same day on $3,000 bond.

The indictment alleges that Cosner injured a 4-year-old Feb. 15. The boy suffered a perforated bowel, according to TBI, which said he was one of five children in Cosner's care.

A woman who identified herself as Cosner's mother, Jennifer Cook, answered the door at the home Friday and said Cosner still was caring for children there. Cosner declined comment.

DHS had visited the Cosner house after the alleged February incident and warned Cosner that she was operating an unlicensed day care center. The agency served her a written order to desist. At that time, Cosner was caring for eight children. DHS requires a license for five or more children.

The state Department of Children's Services had referred Cosner to DHS, prompting the Feb. 27 visit, DHS spokeswoman Michelle Mowery Johnson said. "We returned on March 1 and determined that she had reduced the number of children in her care to four, not including her own children.

"If she had not complied, we could have issued an injunction," she said.

Johnson said Cosner applied in March for a license to operate a day care center and that the license probably would have been granted this week. The indictment for the child abuse charge would preclude the issuance of a license whether Cosner is convicted or not, she added.

"She won't be getting a license to operate a day care center in this state," Johnson said.

The question of whether Cosner should have been caring for any children, including her own, after being accused of such a crime was an issue for DCS, she said.

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson would not say if a determination had been made regarding the safety of the children currently under Cosner's care.

"I can confirm that DCS has been investigating the case since the allegations were made, but I cannot comment on the specifics of that investigation," he said.

"We are concerned about the children currently under her care " he said.

"If there is an allegation of an illegal day care center, it sometimes complicates the issue of child safety," he added.