THE SEVEN DEFENDANTS IN THE LITTLE RASCALS DAY CARE CASE

Dawn Wilson Dawn did the cooking at Little Rascals and also helped with the children. She was 23 and the single parent of a 19 month-old daughter when she was arrested. She served 17 months in jail before her trial, under a bond set at $880,000.

Dawn was the second Little Rascals defendant to go to trial. After Bob Kelly's conviction, the prosecuting attorneys offered Dawn a plea bargain through which she would admit to several charges against her in return for serving a 10 year sentence. Taking into account the time she had already served, that sentence would probably not have amounted to more than a year of time actually served. She refused the plea bargain. A second plea bargain was offered to her, while the jury for her trial was being selected. This plea would have meant only three months of additional time in jail. Dawn refused the second plea, and went to trial.

In January, 1993, she was convicted of five charges of child sexual abuse, and sentenced to life in state prison in Raleigh, North Carolina.

She entered prison on February 4, 1993. On August 17, she gave birth to a son, Zachary. Three weeks later, she was released on bond and placed under house arrest, pending her appeal. She moved to Statesville, in Western North Carolina, where she spent over two years living under house arrest.

Dawn's case was argued before the state court of appeals in January 1995, and her conviction was overturned in May of that year. The Supreme Court of North Carolina upheld the appellate court decision and shortly after that ruling, her house arrest was lifted.

On December 16, 1996, all charges against Dawn were dropped. She lives in Statesville, North Carolina and is a health care worker. She has since married the father of her son.


Chronology of Dawn Wilson's Case
1988  

Sept. Hired as a cook at Little Rascals Day Care Center.

1989  

Sept. 25 Arrested. Bail: $880,000.

1990  

Dec. 16 Bond reduced to $200,000.

1991  

Feb. 8 Released on $200,000 bond.

1992  

Nov. 2 Trial begins in Hertford.

1993  

Jan. 26 Sentenced to life in prison.

Feb. 4 Enters prison.

Aug. 17 Gives birth to son, Zachary, in jail.

Sept. 8 Released on $250,000 bond pending appeal. Under house arrest.

1994  

May 16 Appeal filed.

1995  

Jan. 9 Kirk Osborn argues Dawn's case before the State Court of Appeals.

May 2 Appellate Court of North Carolina overturns the convictions of Dawn Wilson and Bob Kelly.

Sept. 7 Supreme Court of North Carolina upholds Appellate Court decision.

Oct. 5 House arrest ends.

1996  

Dec. 16 All charges dropped

home | join the discussion | forum | bob kelly's trial | readings | summary | profiles of the defendants | tapes & transcripts | press
explore FRONTLINE | wgbh | pbs online

New Content Copyright © 1998 PBS and WGBH/Frontline pbs

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

RECENT STORIES

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS