By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — An unlicensed Wausau daycare provider accused of intentionally abusing a toddler who suffered a brain injury while in her care will appear in court April 11 to face a new charge, this time involving a 2-year-old boy.
Merisa Sell, 28, who operated Merisa’s Stepping Stones Daycare out of her Stark Street Home, is already facing a charge of child abuse-intentionally causing harm in a case filed in November in Marathon County Circuit Court. But prosecutors are now charging her again, after taking a second look at an October 2017 police report.
In the latest case, the mother of the boy called police to report her child had a visible mark near his “private parts,” according to a Wausau Police Department report. Investigators examined the child and discovered what appeared to be fresh fingerprints near his groin that appeared recent and were consistent with adult fingers, the report states.
A summons and complaint on a charge of child abuse-intentionally causing harm with a modifier of sexual assault of a child/physical abuse of a child by a child care provider were entered March 29.
Court documents show Sell was investigated three times for suspected child abuse and was fired from two other daycare facilities before formal charges were filed.
The November charges are connected to an investigation that began in August, when Sell called 911 to report a 16-month-old girl she was caring for fell out of her high chair, choked on her food and was having trouble breathing. Sell cleared the girl’s airway before emergency crews arrived and the toddler’s mother opted to watch the girl at home rather than have her transported to the emergency room.
But the girl’s condition continued to deteriorate, prompting the child’s mother to take her to the hospital later in the evening. There, police say, doctors discovered the girl had bleeding on her brain. Doctors also discovered mouth injuries and other bruising indicative of potential physical abuse, police said. According to court documents, doctors suspected the child had been shaken.
In addition to the two incidents already connected to charges, police say Sell was involved in a third investigation at the same day care and did not tell parents she was running an unlicensed facility, according to court records. In 2015, a 4-month-old boy in Sell’s care who had a seizure was also diagnosed with a brain injury, police said. Sell allegedly attributed the boy’s injuries to another child who she said shook the infant while the boy was sitting in a bouncy swing. No charges were filed.
Sell, who admitted to police she had been fired from two Wausau daycare facilities, closed her in-home daycare in September.
Sell is free after posting a $10,000 cash bond. A motions hearing for the November case is set for May 9.