Man admits to child neglect

GREENFIELD — An Indianapolis man will serve time on probation after admitting he used drugs in front of four children in his care.

David Nelson, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of neglect of a dependent and one count of false informing as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

He agreed to serve a year and six months on probation for the crime. He’d already served nearly six months in jail by the time he was sentenced, officials said.

Charges were filed against Nelson and his girlfriend, Telisa Parrish, over the summer after four children accused them of abuse.

The children told investigators the couple physically and verbally abused them and each other, court documents state.

The children reported they were beaten repeatedly whenever they were left in the couple’s care, court records state. They said they were slapped, punched and at times struck with objects, such as broomstick handles and belts, court documents state.

The children also told police the couple often got drunk and high in front of them, according to court documents. Nelson once overdosed on drugs while the children watched, and Parrish crashed her car while under the influence when the kids were riding inside, the children said, according to court documents.

While handing down Nelson’s sentence, Hancock Circuit Court Judge Scott Sirk encouraged Nelson to use the time on probation to turn his life around. He told the defendant he needed to be more mindful of the impression his actions can have on young people.

“Whenever you’re in the presence of children, you need to be acting in their best interest,” Sirk said.

Nelson admitted before a judge Monday that he regularly put the children in dangerous situations, and those instances were usually fueled by drug use.

Nelson overdosed on drugs while he was supposed to be watching the children, officials said. Fire department medics needed to carry Nelson from the home as the boys watched.

The man had signed safety plans outlined by the Indiana Department of Child Services, in which he agreed not to use drugs or participate in any illegal activity around the child, Deputy Prosecutor Marie Castetter said during Nelson’s sentencing hearing.

His actions were in direct violation of those agreements, she said.

Whenever police or state investigators from DCS came to speak with the couple, Nelson would give them a fake name, officials said. Two caseworkers reported to police Nelson impeding their investigation of the couple by giving false information, court documents state.

It wasn’t until after the overdose police learned Nelson’s real identity, Castetter said.

Nelson pleaded guilty to one Level 6 felony count of neglect of a dependent and one false informing as a Class B misdemeanor. He’s not allowed to have contact with any of the four children involved in the case during his sentence, Castetter said.

Parrish’s case still is pending in Hancock Circuit Court, records show. She faces similar charges and allegations as her boyfriend, records show.

One child told police Parrish forced him to beg for money at a local gas station, then took the money and the family’s food stamps and used them to buy drugs, according to court documents.

Parrish is expected in court again next month.

Author photo
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.