ELYRIA — A child care worker at the Lorain County Juvenile Court’s Pathways is facing misdemeanor charges after being accused of allowing a teen who ran away from the girls’ residential treatment facility in April to stay at her house.
Wilmary Saez, 29, is charged with interference with custody and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in juvenile court and also faces charges of dereliction of duty, interference with custody and obstructing official business in Elyria Municipal Court.
Saez, who was hired in October as a relief employee at the facility, was fired Monday for failing to report that she had been charged with the crimes, something Juvenile Court Administrator Jody Barilla said she was required by law to do because of her job as a child care worker.
A county sheriff’s report said that the 14-year-old girl ran out the front door of Pathways just before 5 p.m. April 7 and got into a car with two other people and drove off.
Barilla said Pathways isn’t a lockdown facility and there isn’t anything that would prevent a resident from leaving if she wanted.
“When a juvenile absconds from one of our facilities, we report it to the authorities, and they try to find them,” Barilla said.
When deputies arrived April 7 at Pathways, they met with Saez, who gave them a description of what the girl was wearing and said that there would be standing orders to take the girl to the county’s Juvenile Detention Home when she was found.
Barilla said the girl, who had been sent to Pathways in March for chronic truancy, was caught April 24 and is now back at the facility.
Sheriff’s Lt. Donald Barker said that over the course of the investigation into the runaway, who has since turned 15, deputies learned that she may have stayed with Saez.
During a May 9 interview, the girl told deputies that the night she ran away, she spoke by phone with Saez, who told her to turn herself in. She said she later texted Saez and asked her if she could spend the night.
The teen said that Saez picked her up at an Elyria gas station and took her to her Lorain home and let her spend the night in her daughter’s Tinker Bell-themed room.
The next day, the teen told deputies, Saez went to work and came back with her daughter, whom she asked the girl to babysit. When Saez returned to the house later, she then drove the teen back to Elyria and dropped her off on East River Road.
Saez denied that she allowed the girl to stay at her house when she was questioned by deputies last month.
Mike Camera, Saez’s attorney, said he doesn’t feel the allegations against his client are justified.
“The case is based on the statements of a 14-year-old runaway,” he said.
But deputies wrote that there were discrepancies in what Saez told them about a man who stayed at her house when the teen allegedly stayed there. The report also said that the girl drew a detailed sketch of the interior of Saez’s house.
Saez also violated other Pathways policies, deputies determined, including allowing the teen to have contact with 19-year-old Norma Wilkerson, to whom the girl wasn’t supposed to talk. Wilkerson was in the car that picked up the teen on April 7 and pleaded no contest to an interference with custody charge in the case last month. She was fined $150 and given six days in jail, according to Elyria Municipal Court records.
Barker said the case remains under investigation and others could face charges.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.