The prosecutor who signed off on the plea deal in the case of a transgender daycare worker who sexually abused an infant says he believes the “sentence that the defendant served was appropriate for what could be proven in court.”
“The defendant pled guilty to sexual misconduct and received a sentence of twelve months,” McCracken County Commonwealth’s attorney Dan Boaz told The Spectator in an exclusive statement. “The defendant served over 300 days in jail, primarily in solitary confinement, prior to entering the guilty plea. As the case developed, there were contradictions as sometimes happens and a plea bargain was entered. As stated, the defendant served over 300 days in jail.”
“Ultimately, any plea bargain that is reached is my responsibility and I believe the sentence that the defendant served was appropriate for what could be proven in court.”
Reduxx first reported on the case involving Maria Childers, a female-identifying male who works at a daycare in Paducah, Kentucky. Childers was accused of molesting a baby while changing her diaper. Childers was arrested in February 2023 based on an anonymous tip to the police claiming that Childers had touched the little girl’s clitoris inappropriately and police interviews with employees at the daycare corroborating the report. A female coworker told police that Childers rubbed the baby’s private area in a “circular motion,” and said, “She likes it. It just made her day.”
Childers was charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a victim under twelve and three counts of first-degree criminal abuse of a child under twelve. Childers’ lawyer, transgender activist Madison Leach, complained that Childers couldn’t access his estrogen treatments in a court filing made in March 2023 prior to an indictment. Childers was held at McCracken County Jail, mostly in solitary confinement, on a $100,000 bond for nearly a year. On January 2, 2024, the bond was reduced to $5,000 and would allow Childers to be released to home detention with the additional condition he have no contact with minor children. Judge Joe Roark told The Spectator that Childers’ request for estrogen had no bearing on the decision to reduce his bond, and that he amended it according to an agreement between the prosecution and the defense so that Childers could prepare for trial. Childers never made bond.
Childers struck a plea deal with prosecutors on January 26, 2024. The deal saw the felony charges dropped down to a single misdemeanor count of class A sexual misconduct, for which the maximum penalty is one year in prison.
Judge Roark said, “When presented with the plea agreement, I paused the entry of the plea to inquire as to why the charges had been reduced so dramatically and was assured by the prosecutor that the case had been discussed at length by the attorneys in his office and with law enforcement and that since they couldn’t prove the original charges the amended charge was reasonable. Only after receiving that information would I accept the plea.”
Judge Roark sentenced Childers to the full twelve-month penalty, including time served, but with a conditional discharge for six months. If Childers abides by conditions set by the court, he will not serve the final 13 days of his sentence.
“In sex crimes that our office has tried where we have had more substantial evidence we have received sentences ranging from twenty years to life in prison,” Boaz explained. “In this case the prosecutors assigned to the case did not believe that we had enough evidence to receive a sentence of that magnitude and believed that the plea was appropriate. I trust their judgment and approved the agreement.”
Boaz said he did not “approve of the actions of the defendant” but claimed the child “did not have any physical injury” and that Childers had worked at the daycare for over a year without any other substantiated complaints and had no prior criminal history.
“I in no way approve of the actions of the defendant and believe that the defendant’s guilty plea and sentence was recognition that their actions were inappropriate and illegal,” Boaz said.
The prosecutor also rejected claims that the reduction in charges had anything to do with Childers’s status as a transgender woman: “The case was not based upon the sexuality of the defendant but upon the evidence that could be presented in court.”
This article was updated to clarify details about Childers’ bond and sentence and to include comment from Judge Joe Roark. Childers’ estrogen treatments had no bearing on his bond reduction and his twelve-month sentence, the maximum for a misdemeanor sexual misconduct conviction, included time served in pre-trial detention.