Montrose woman sentenced to prison in child neglect case

ELKINS — A Montrose woman was sentenced in a child neglect case in Randolph County Circuit Court this week.

Ashley Nicole Nielson was sentenced to one to three years in prison on one felony charge of child neglect resulting in bodily injury.

Initially indicted in October 2018, Nielson’s case is related to an alleged sexual assault against her two daughters by her live-in boyfriend.

“She took responsibility for her actions. In this matter, she failed to act. She was not taking steps to protect her children — not wanting to believe what was happening — but she also did not do what she should’ve done. She came to the court and accepted responsibility for that,” said attorney Brent Easton, who represented Nielson in the case.

Easton also requested an alternative sentence for his client– specifically probation– due to her “extremely limited” criminal history. Easton said Nielson has otherwise been an upstanding member of society with no convictions prior to this matter and no drug or alcohol-related history.

Nielson herself declined to speak during the proceedings.

Andrew Schoeff, father of the victims, made a statement asserting that he was in favor of Nielson being given the maximum sentence for her charge.

“I would first like to say that my children are no longer victims– but now survivors. They’ve continued to make strides in their recovery on a daily basis,” he said.

“If I would ask my children today if they forgave their mother, they would say yes, but that is only because my wife (their stepmother) and I have and will continue to protect them from the reality of the monster their mother truly is,” he said. “We will continue to protect them from the fact that (she) failed as a mother. We came here today with the hope of seeing (her) receive just punishment for the abuse and neglect of our children.”

“We will continue to heal our children from the severe sexual abuse at the hands of (Nielson) and her boyfriend,” he said.

Attorney Lisa Weese spoke on behalf of the children, citing statements that Nielson had been aware of the offenses committed against her children by her boyfriend.

“I’m well aware of Ms. Nielson’s failure to engage and protect in capacity as a parent on behalf of her children,” she said. “I’d like to draw to the court’s attention that not only did she know that this gentleman was a risk based on her own personal observations (but) she also expressed those concerns to third parties on at least two occasions and still failed to take protective capacity to ensure the safety of her children.

“It’s very difficult for me to stand here and describe this as a failure to act when I think that she had knowledge of direct issues and concerns in her home.”

Weese said Nielson still supported her boyfriend in the underlying court case “despite the abuse that her children suffered.”

“I would ask the court to impose the maximum criminal sentence– incarceration for one to three years,” said Weese.

Nielson ultimately received the maximum sentence of one to three years of incarceration, and is required to register with the child abuse registry for a period of 15 years.

Also on Wednesday:

• Shatia Ford-Currence was given an alternative sentence of three years supervised probation for one count of child neglect creating risk of bodily injury.