WAYNESBORO, Ga. — A Burke County day care owner pleaded guilty to child abuse Thursday, admitting she shook a 3-month-old baby to stop her from crying.
Cynthia F. Bragg, 64, told the judge Thursday that she didn’t intend to harm the infant, a contention the prosecutor said he and the victim’s family believe.
Bragg and her daughter Valerie Gay Oglesby, 36, both were indicted on a charge of cruelty to children in the second degree, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
With Bragg’s guilty plea in Burke County Superior Court, the charge against Oglesby was dismissed. Bragg was given a probated sentence.
The victim, who has made a full recovery, is a grandchild of longtime Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey.
The prosecution had three physicians with experience in child abuse cases who believe the baby suffered two brain injuries, likely on Aug. 3, 2011, and again on Aug. 9, 2011, Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus Fogus said. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Department of Family and Children Services investigated. The GBI agents interviewed the parents, Jeremy and Marie Murray, and both sets of grandparents, Fogus said. Once agents believed the family was cleared, they turned to the only other people who had contact with the baby, Bragg and Oglesby, he said.
Both women were asked to take a polygraph test, and according to the operator, Bragg gave an indication of deception when asked whether she knew how the victim was injured, Fogus said. Oglesby did not complete her exam, he said.
Polygraph results are not admissible in court, and expert witnesses were lined up for both sides. In exchange for an admission of guilt and never again caring for any non-relative child, the prosecutor offered a recommendation of probation under the First Offender Act.
Roper accepted the plea and sentenced Bragg to 10 years’ probation. No conviction will be on her record if she successfully completes the sentence. She must also pay $5,000 in restitution.