Former Bentonville School Bus Driver Found Not Guilty In Child Abuse Case
BENTONVILLE (KFSM) – A Benton County jury found a former Bentonville school bus driver not guilty on Tuesday (April 7) on a misdemeanor child abuse charge.
Janefer Ogborn, arrested in 2013 with her husband, James, after a police officer said their malnourished children looked “like they came from a Holocaust concentration camp,” was found not guilty of misdemeanor third-degree battery.
In addition to the misdemeanor charge against Janefer Ogborn, both Ogborns were charged with three felonies each, including endangering the welfare of a minor.
The Ogborns were in Benton County Circuit Court Tuesday, facing a jury on all the charges.
However, Circuit Judge Brad Karren granted directed verdict on all but the misdemeanor charge against Janefer Ogborn. The judge’s verdict meant James Ogborn was free of all charges, leaving Janefer Ogborn to face a jury verdict only on the misdemeanor charge.
In a directed verdict, the judge declares the prosecutors did not make their case that a crime occurred, erasing the charges. The ruling was made over the prosecutors’ objection.
In August 2013, Bella Vista police responded to a home in reference to a possible child abuse call, and when officers arrived, they spoke with a child at the residence, who told police his mom, Janefer Ogborn, had hit and kicked him during an altercation. The child also told police the mom “told me she hated me and wanted to put my head through the wall, and would break me in half,” according to a probable cause affidavit in Benton County Circuit Court.
Police said the children “were very thin and extremely pale-skinned,” also noting that their hair was thin and eyes sunken in.
“They looked a lot smaller size way than a child of that age should be and the color of their skin and their appearance where of children that were malnourished,” said Captain Tim Cook of the Bella Vista Police Department.
“The children were complaining of being hungry and thirsty,” the affidavit states. “Their skin was also pale and ashy. You could see the veins in their necks and bones sticking out.”
Three children at the home told police they often were forced to stand for long periods of time, were only allowed to use the bathroom four times a day and were allowed two Dixie cups of water a day with meals, according to the affidavit.
The children also said they were forced to sleep on the floor. If they tried to sneak into their beds during the night, they were yelled at and forced to stand for long periods of time as punishment, the affidavit states.
The children said they were locked in their rooms and watched by video camera because they “steal food,” police said.
When the couple arrived home, Janefer Ogborn denied hitting any of the children, saying instead that she grabbed his cheek when he was not cooperating. Police asked to see the camera footage of the children’s rooms, but the Ogborns said the cameras were not functioning, the affidavit states.
Police seized the children from the home and placed the Ogborn couple under arrest, according to the affidavit.
Not long after being arrested Janefer Ogborn resigned from her job as a Bentonville school bus driver, records show.