JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — A 26-year-old Washington County woman is jailed on charges alleging she caused serious bodily injury to a child 8 years old or younger and could face at least 15 years in jail if convicted.
Kirsten Jenkins was jailed Dec. 22, weeks after a Washington County Grand Jury returned presentment charging her with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect. The four-count presentment also includes two alternate counts of aggravated child endangerment.
Details in the presentment are limited but show two different date ranges during which Jenkins allegedly neglected and abused a child — the first was between March 7 and May 12 and the second was between May 22 and Aug. 5.
First Judicial District Attorney General’s Office’s Mike Little and Washington County Sheriff’s Office’s Michael Gardner are listed as the witnesses in the presentment.
The presentment cites two Tennessee laws, including Tennessee Code Annotated 39-15-402, also known as “Haley’s Law.” That law makes it a class A felony in certain cases when a person is found guilty of child abuse, child neglect or child endangerment.
Haley’s Law applies if any of those acts meet all the following:
- “results in serious bodily injury to the child;”
- was accomplished with “a deadly weapon, dangerous instrumentality, controlled substance or controlled substance analogue;
- was “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, or involved the infliction of torture to the victim;
The law also applies if the abuse, neglect or endangerment resulted from knowing exposure to meth manufacturing processes.
The Haley’s Law charge is upgraded from a Class B to a class A felony if the child is 8 or younger.
In the earlier dated instance, Jenkins is charged with aggravated child neglect for violating TCA 39-15-401(b). That involves knowing abuse or neglect “so as to adversely affect the child’s health and welfare.” The same citation is used for the later-dated count of child abuse.
The alternate endangerment counts cite 39-15-401(c), which apply only if a child is 8 or younger. It applies when a parent or custodian “knowingly exposes such child to or knowingly fails to protect such child from abuse or neglect resulting in physical injury or imminent danger to the child.”
The charges are normally class E felonies absent Haley’s Law. A class A felony can bring sentences ranging from 15 to 60 years depending on other factors.
Jenkins remains in the Washington County Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 bond. Court documents show she faces a hearing on April 3, 2023 in Washington County Criminal Court.