A former South San Francisco foster mom will not serve time in prison after soaking her 20-month-old baby's diaper in bleach three years ago, prosecutors said Monday, but she could find herself behind bars anyway for basically being bad at her job.
Patricia Ann Moore, 68, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of child endangerment Friday. She faces up to a year in County Jail when she is sentenced Sept. 24, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
The plea agreement came more than two years after Judge Richard Livermore threw out felony charges of willful cruelty against a child, citing insufficient evidence. But Moore wasn't out of the woods. Prosecutors took their case to the San Mateo County criminal grand jury, and Moore was indicted last fall on similar felony charges.
Since the indictment, however, prosecutors changed their tune and offered to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor. That's partly because Moore's defense attorney May Mar presented evidence that the ex-foster mom “lacked good child-care skills,” Wagstaffe said.
Mar did not return a request for comment Monday.
From the beginning of the case, prosecutors didn't believe Moore had intended to burn the baby. She was being prosecuted for lying about the harm, Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe called Friday's plea agreement a “fair” ending to the sad and bizarre case.
As a foster parent, Moore would temporarily care for children brought by Child Protective Services. On Aug. 19, 2010, Moore brought her foster daughter to Kaiser hospital in South San Francisco with first- and second-degree burns on both buttocks, Wagstaffe said.
Moore told authorities the baby had a defecation problem. To remedy that, she claimed she bathed the child in 12 inches of water and a half-capful of bleach, Wagstaffe said. She noticed the redness the next day and decided to bring the girl to a hospital, Wagstaffe said.
But doctors and police didn't buy the story and believed Moore had soaked the diaper in bleach and then strapped it onto her foster child. Not only was a diaper soaked with bleach found in the trash of Moore's home, the “waffle pattern of a diaper fabric” could be seen on the baby's buttocks, according to prosecutors.
Moore remains out of custody on a $50,000 bail bond, Wagstaffe said.