Search of daycare in question
By Kevin O’Brien
An attorney representing the former owner of an Abbotsford daycare accused of abusing and neglecting children is asking a judge to throw out evidence discovered during a 2019 search of her house by police and social workers. Judge Richard Radcliffe, who is substituting for Clark County Judge Lyndsey Brunette, is expected to issue a ruling Oct. 21 on a motion submitted June 12 by defense attorney Karl Kelz.
Kelz is representing Naomi Konieczny, 55, who faces a total of 25 criminal charges, including child neglect and reckless endangerment, after authorities found several children restrained in high-chairs and playpens in the back bedrooms of her home-based daycare.
Interviews with children at her familyrun daycare, along with their parents, indicated that small children were regularly left alone in dark rooms for hours at a time and allegedly given medication to make them sleep.
Konieczny’s husband, Gary, and their daughter, 33-year-old Rachel Konieczny, also face charges related to the alleged mistreatment of children at the daycare. Gary is being represented by the same attorney, and a similar motion has been filed in his case.
According to the motion to suppress filed by Kelz, an April 3, 2019, search of the Konieczny residence violated her constitutional rights because neither the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department nor the Clark and Marathon social workers had a warrant.
The motion seeks to exclude all evidence obtained during the search, which includes what was discovered in the back bedrooms where several confined children were found. A police report documenting the search says several children were strapped into high chairs and car seats and left in a dark room. In another room, a child was found inside a playpen with a piece of plywood over the top to keep the child from getting out.
An Aug. 4 motion hearing was held at the Clark County Courthouse in Neillsville, and former CAPD officer Chris Brandner was questioned by Kelz, district attorney Melissa Inlow and Judge Radcliffe.
An interview with Gary Konieczny was also submitted to the court as evidence at the motion hearing.
Online court records state that the DA’s office has until Sept. 4 to file a brief on the motion, and the defense has until Oct. 2 to file its own brief. Any additional response by the prosecutor is due Oct. 16, five days before the judge is expected to rule on the motion to suppress.
All three defendants have entered pleas of not guilty to the multiple charges filed against them. Charges were filed last December, and the defendants first appeared in court on Jan. 10, along with a group of parents and other relatives of the alleged victims.
Rachel Konieczny currently does not have legal counsel entered in the court system, as two of her previous attorneys have withdrawn from the case.
A status conference is scheduled for Aug. 25 in her case.