By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – A Tyler County grand jury handed down a no bill to Jillian Bass and Kelly Bass, the owner and director, respectively, of Early Birds Learning Center, a Woodville daycare facility.
The grand jury met on Sept. 29 to decide whether or not there had been any type of physical abuse of the children attending the daycare. The no bill absolves the Bass women of any wrongdoing.
William S. “Bill” Morian, Jr., who is the attorney for Jillian and Kelly Bass, said the investigation conducted by an employee of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services was “a one-sided quasi-investigation.”
The state agency in charge of the licensing component of the investigation (Woodville Police Department also conducted a months-long investigation) determined in early September that abuse did take place, according to a letter sent from its Child Care Licensing Investigative Unit.
The police investigation was to determine if any criminal wrongdoing had taken place, and if, henceforth, there was enough evidence for the grand jury to indict.
Kelly Bass denied the allegations from the start, and stated it was a disgruntled former employee who was to blame. That claim was echoed by her counsel, who said along with the former employee and the insufficient investigation, “a local tabloid website” was also to blame for the closure of the facility.
Morian also said that the Bass women were also “the subject of ridicule, harassment and death threats.”
The “tabloid website” in question to which Morian referred is the Facebook page Concerned Citizens of Tyler County (CCTC), which does not bill itself as a news agency, but as an advocacy platform.
CCTC broke the story about Early Birds online, and initially showcased a video depicting alleged abuse, but later took the clip down, by request of a parent.
Woodville PD Capt. Jathan Borel confirmed to the Booster in July that there was more than one allegation of abuse concerning Early Birds. Some of the “unfounded” allegations, according to Morian, included giving the children the sleep aid Melatonin and spanking children; allegations which Jillian and Kelly Bass adamantly denied.
The investigation done by the state, which resulted in the voluntary closure, was appealed, according to Morian.
“Now that the Tyler County Grand Jury has spoken and cleared Kelly Bass and Jillian Bass, they look forward to being reinstated,” Morian said.