Baby-Sitter Enters Plea in Videotaping Case
The baby-sitter who was secretly videotaped striking a 2-year-old Palmdale girl pleaded not guilty Thursday during her arraignment on a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to a child.
Antelope Municipal Judge William H. Seelicke set bail for Martha Mendoza, 19, at $10,000, the maximum possible for a misdemeanor. Evelyn Burns, a public defender representing Mendoza, asked that she be released from jail on her own recognizance, but Seelicke accepted the bail recommendation of the district attorney.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Pamela C. Rhodes said Seelicke cited the beating of Stevie Lewis while the girl was in Mendoza’s care and the baby-sitter’s illegal-alien status in setting the bail.
Prosecutors said they decided not to seek a felony child abuse charge because acts recorded on the tape were not likely to have caused “traumatic injury,” the legal standard for the more serious offense. The child was examined by a doctor and found to have no physical injuries.
Mendoza was transferred Thursday from the jail at the Antelope Valley sheriff’s station to the Sybil Brand Institute for Women. A trial has been set for Oct. 15.
John Lewis, Stevie’s father, had become suspicious that something was wrong because his daughter cried violently every time Lewis tried to leave her alone with Mendoza, a live-in nanny.
Mendoza was arrested Tuesday morning after Lewis left a video camera running that captured Mendoza slamming the girl on a counter, hitting her with a wooden spoon and throwing her to the ground, authorities said.