Emily Welker, Published January 23 2014
Moorhead day care provider gets probation after working while intoxicated
Jayne Ann Cote, 54, testified in Clay County District Court on Thursday that she had been drinking between 1 and 2 a.m. Oct. 2, the morning a parent reported to police that Cote seemed drunk when he dropped off his child.
Cote told the court she had also taken hydrocodone at about 7 that morning.
Casey Brand, a former client of Cote’s, wept as she told the court Cote was a longtime family friend who had eased her fears as a first-time mother sending her infant daughter to day care.
Her husband came home on Sept. 16 expressing concerns about Cote being drunk when he took their child to the day care, Brand said.
Cote, who Brand knew to be a recovering alcoholic, reassured her she had not touched alcohol in almost a year, Brand said.
Three weeks later, police were called about 10:42 in the morning to Cote’s home at 2740 26th St. Circle S., where court documents say Cote was unsteady on her feet, with pants unbuttoned and cereal scattered all over the floor. One parent told police Cote had lost her balance while trying to put an infant down on a changing table.
Brand said she often lies awake at night, imagining accidents – a stove left on, a fall down the stairs – that could have happened to her daughter while in Cote’s care.
“I know this may sound morbid, but I could have lost my little girl and that’s not OK,” Brand said. “What Jayne did, the choice she made, that’s not OK.”
Cote wiped away tears during Brand’s victim impact statement, and pleaded guilty to one count of gross misdemeanor neglect or endangerment of a child.
Two other related charges were dropped as part of her plea agreement, under which she must serve two years of unsupervised probation.
“I’d like to say I’m sorry,” Cote said to the court, adding that she was working hard to fight her alcoholism. “Children are my passion. I would never knowingly harm a child.”
Cote’s attorney, Jade Rosenfeldt, called Cote’s case a “complete aberration of her character and history.”
Cote was a day care provider and prominent church and community leader for more than two decades, Rosenfeldt said. She has successfully completed alcohol abuse treatment at a local psychiatric care center, and does not plan to seek work again in child care.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541