MAHONING COUNTY Judge sentences day-care operator in son's sexual assault of children
Her son is in jail on gross sexual imposition charges.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Former home day-care provider Cynthia Dudek showed no emotion as Mahoning County deputy sheriffs led her out of a courtroom in handcuffs.
"No remorse. Not one iota," Austintown Detective Sgt. Ray Holmes said.
Behind Holmes, sitting in the gallery, parents who had once trusted Dudek with their children wept and put their arms around one another.
As part of a plea agreement, Dudek, 48, entered an Alford plea of guilty Tuesday morning in Mahoning County Court in Austintown to eight counts of child endangerment. She was accused of leaving children alone at her Cumberland Drive home day care where they were sexually assaulted by her 17-year-old son, Brian, who pleaded guilty in February to six counts of felony gross sexual imposition and is serving a three-to-four year sentence in state juvenile prison.
Assistant County Prosecutor Ken Cardinal explained that defendants who enter Alford pleas strongly maintain their innocence but admit that because of the evidence against them they most likely would have been convicted in a trial.
"If I would have had any idea that any kind of abuse was going on, it wouldn't have been going on," Cynthia Dudek told Judge David D'Apolito during Monday's hearing. "These kids were my kids too.
"I never left the house without an adult there," she said.
D'Apolito sentenced Dudek to one year in jail, with all but 30 days suspended. She was taken from the court to the county jail to begin her sentence.
Dudek also was ordered to serve two years of probation and pay $100 in fines and court costs. During her probation she is prohibited from caring for any children younger than 18.
Some parents expressed frustration at Dudek's lack of emotion.
"It's like she didn't care," said the mother of one of Brian Dudek's victims. "Her husband showed more remorse than she did."
Dudek's husband cried in the gallery during the hearing.
The scene was similar to that of Brian Dudek's sentencing in February, when Cynthia Dudek showed no emotion at the defense table as her son was led away in handcuffs. Her husband also cried then.
Effects on victims
At both Brian and Cynthia Dudek's court hearings, the parents of Brian Dudek's victims told the judge how the assaults had affected their families. Several parents said on Tuesday that their children won't sleep alone and have outbursts at school. Most said their families were going through counseling.
One mother said her 9-year-old son feels guilty that he could not protect his younger sister from the abuse.
"There's no amount of justice this court can give for the pain and suffering these families have gone through," the father of one victim said.
Several of the children were brought to court Tuesday morning to testify if Cynthia Dudek decided to have a trial. They played together in a back room in the courthouse before and during the hearing.
Before the hearing, Cynthia Dudek was in a women's restroom at the courthouse at the same time as a young girl who was one of Brian Dudek's victims. A female county employee quickly went into the bathroom and brought the girl out.