Last Thursday in Orange County Circuit Court, Brookes Michelle Sims and Jenean Renee Simms, former employees of the Orange County Child Care Center, pleaded not guilty to charges filed against them after a child was allegedly injured at the center. 

During their arraignment Friday in Orange County Circuit Court, both Sims, 37, and Simms, 33, requested a jury trial. Judge Dale Durrer set their joint trial for January 29-31.

The two women were arrested on May 30 by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Simms, a resident of Orange, was charged with one count of child endangerment and one count of child abuse and neglect. Sims, an Earlysville resident, was charged with one count of child endangerment and one count of failing to report the suspicion of child abuse. After their arrests, they were released on unsecured bond.

The school board voted in the spring to close the child care center, in a move unrelated to the incident precipitating the charges against the two women. School board chair Sherrie Page said the center was losing money and that it was hard to find qualified employees to work there. The facility at the Taylor Education Administration Complex closed on June 30.

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Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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