Appellate court upholds neglect convictions

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a Marion County woman’s convictions for neglect of her boyfriend’s children after finding the woman assumed the care of the children, yet placed them in dangerous situations by exposing them to the making and selling of drugs.

In Tanesha McGowan v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1706-CR-1421, James Loynes and his three children moved in with his girlfriend, Tanesha McGowan and her child, D.A, in Atlanta. McGowan gave birth to another child, K.L., and assumed a parent-like role over all of the children in the home, though she had no legal authority over Loynes’ children.

After the family moved to Indiana, Loynes’ children began to observe marijuana, cocaine and pills in the home where they were staying, as well as drugs being made and sold in the home. The children were also left alone in the presence of guns that were not locked away, were taken to trap houses and were asked to accept money from people wanting to buy drugs.

The state eventually charged McGowan with Class C felony neglect of a dependent, and she was convicted on five counts of that crime, with one count for each child in her care. McGowan appealed those convictions as they related to Loynes’ children, but the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions Wednesday.

Judge Elaine Brown, writing for a unanimous appellate panel, said there was sufficient evidence to prove McGowan had voluntarily assumed the care of her boyfriend’s children, including the fact that she moved with them to Indiana and regularly drove them to school and cooked for them. Further, the evidence in the record showed McGowan’s actions – including taking the children to trap houses, accepting drug money and failing to report Loynes’ illegal activity – placed the children in dangerous situations, Brown said. Thus, the evidence supported her convictions for neglect of a dependent.

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