Iowa City woman barred from providing child care, listed on child abuse registry

Bench trial continues without Lisa Koplin present

Vanessa Miller
Published: December 18 2012 | 1:00 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:29 am in

A former Iowa City daycare provider has been permanently barred from providing child care in Iowa after she failed to appear for her civil trial this morning.

Lisa Koplin’s name also has been added to the state’s child abuse registry based on allegations that a baby was injured in her care and she tried to conceal the injuries instead of get help for them.

“At some point, the child was injured in the home with Lisa, and she didn’t seek help or tell the parents,” said Davina Holladay, a worker with the Iowa Department of Human Services who testified at Koplin’s trial on Tuesday. “What she did was go to great lengths to cover this up.”

A Johnson County judge on Tuesday granted a permanent injunction against Koplin, who failed to appear for the trial and had no one in the courtroom to speak in her defense. Despite an appeal of her name’s appearance on the state’s child abuse registry, a judge made that final on Monday.

Koplin contacted The Gazette just after 4 p.m. Tuesday wanting to explain her side of the story. She said she didn't know she had to show up for the trial after her attorney withdrew from the case "for personal reasons" last month.

She said she didn't know the trial would go on without her.

"I thought this wouldn’t go on without my attorney," she said.

Koplin said, however, that she's innocent and confident that authorities have no evidence against her. She said detectives, Holladay and the parents of the injured child have spread lies about her and put words in her mouth.

"If I would have went today, I know I would have won," she said. "But this has forced me into bankruptcy. Why should I go on? I have a 17-year-old son who has to live with this all the time. I just want it over."

Koplin, 36, never faced criminal charges in the case. Johnson County Assistant County Attorney Patricia Weir said the burden of proof was too great in criminal court, and she doesn’t believe jurors would have convicted Koplin without knowing exactly how the child was injured.“We believe it was inflicted and concealed, but we would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t an accident,” Weir said. “We don’t know if a toddler could have done that. Proving that it was not accidental in a criminal trial would not have worked.”

But a preponderance of the evidence, the lower standard of proof required in civil cases, showed that the child was injured when her mother picked her up Nov. 22 and Koplin did nothing to report the injury or help investigators determine what happened, Weir said.

“We needed an injunction because we couldn’t trust her to care for children safely,” Weir said.

Even though Koplin didn't appear Tuesday, the civil case against her proceeded.

Kellee Forkenbrock, the mother of the injured child, told The Gazette after the trial that she’s glad the case is resolved and she appreciates all the work the County Attorney’s Office put into the investigation.

“I’m glad we can find some closure,” she said. “Our children are the most important thing.”

During her tearful testimony on Tuesday, Forkenbrock recalled picking up her screaming 3-month-old daughter on Nov. 22 from Koplin’s daycare, Tattle Tales Daycare at 1009 Sandusky Drive. When she got her daughter home, she noticed dried blood on her face, cheeks and clothing, and – after calling Koplin twice and leaving two messages – she called Mercy Urgent Care.

When her daughter vomited blood, Forkenbrock said her husband called 911 and they took their daughter to Mercy Iowa City Emergency Care. She was transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where she was treated in the intensive care unit until Nov. 25 for a laceration to the  back of the throat. Doctors said the injury probably was caused by trauma, according to a DHS report and Forkenbrock’s testimony.

Forkenbrock testified that Koplin called her back while she was at the hospital. Police had visited Koplin, and she wanted to know why, according to Forkenbrock’s testimony.

“She was very defensive, her first question was, ‘The police came to my house, why did police come to my house?’” Forkenbrock said, adding that Koplin showed now concern for the fact that the baby was in the emergency room. “She was very rude and it was all me, me, me, and how is this affecting me.”

When Iowa City police officer Scott Stevens went to Koplin’s house, according to his testimony, she appeared very drunk and was rude and defiant. He said she changed her story several times and eventually admitted that she had been drinking and taking medication prescribed to her husband since the child left her home.

“She was rude and loud and abrasive," Stevens said. "She lied to me and was deceptive. She showed no remorse or concern for the child.”

Stevens said he recorded the conversation and submitted that evidence and transcript into evidence. He said Koplin has never cooperated with the investigation and helped officers determine what injured the baby that day.

Forkenbrock said her daughter is doing well today, and is healthy.

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