Va. Beach woman indicted on 10 counts of running an unlicensed day care

Marlene Gail Rice (Photo: Virginia Beach Police)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach grand jury indicted a babysitter on 10 counts of not having a license according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Marlene Rice was charged in August after the death of a 4-month-old girl in her care. Investigators said she was operating an unlicensed day care.

The Commonwealth has to prove child abuse and neglect in Rice’s case. The prosecution feels it hinges on whether or not evidence existed that she willfully operated a day care that was unlicensed.

Last month, the Commonwealth’s Attorney laid the case for cause. An administrator for the state’s day care licensing board said they had talked to Rice in 2005. According to the administrator, back then, an official explained to Rice that she could not run a private day care without a license if she had more than five children in her care.

The standard changed in July to make four children the maximum number in a private non-licensed day care.

Then, a Virginia Beach officer took the stand. The detective said he found 17 children in Rice’s home in August. While investigating the death of the four-month-old infant, he found nine total infants in Rice’s care.

The prosecution argued that proved Rice willfully engaged in an unlicensed day care. Therefore, there should be cause to go forward.

“Whether she had one child there or 100 children, there would not have had any impact on the well-being of that child,” said Rice’s attorney, Richard Doummar.

Doummar argued that an autopsy supports his conclusion that no act by his client caused the death of the child. A coroner found no foul play or bruising on the infant, he said.

“That child, supposedly, from the autopsy, died like that,” Doummar added.

The judge considered the evidence, and then ruled there was probable cause to take Rice’s case further.

Tuesday, the grand jury indicted her on 10 charges of running a day care without a license.

Marlene Rice’s trial is tentatively scheduled for February 28.