Former caretaker enters guilty plea to adult abuse charge

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A plea agreement has been reached involving a former adult living services employee who was accused of having an illegal sexual relationship with her client.

Danielle Christine Shadle entered a "guilty" plea to a serious misdemeanor charge of dependent adult abuse by a caretaker on Friday.

Police originally charged the 41-year-old with sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist on Oct. 25, 2016. Officers took her in to custody at 1808 Jackson Ave. in Spirt Lake.

Investigators say Shadle and a then-28-year-old male client both admitted to having sexual intercourse with each other on multiple occasions between Feb. 1 and Oct. 4 of 2016, according to a criminal complaint filed at the Dickinson County Courthouse.

People who provide counseling to vulnerable individuals are prohibited by state law from establishing or trying to establish a sexual relationship with someone under their care. Shadle was a Hope Haven staff member who was assisting someone diagnosed with mental illness at the time. The male client required 24-hour supervision and could not perform some daily living activities, according to court records.

"I engaged in consensual sexual conduct with a person who was over the age of 18, but who was unable to protect his own interests as a result of his mental condition, which required assistance from another," she said as part of her written guilty plea. "And, I had the responsibility for his protection and care, which I assumed voluntarily through my employment."

A district court judge must approve the plea agreement. The Dickinson County Attorney's Office is recommending a year in jail for Shadle with all but seven days suspended. Shadle will have to pay a fine of $1,000, plus a $350 surcharge. She'll have to pay any restitution to the victim, pay court costs and must follow the provisions of a no-contact order.

She waived her opportunity to appear at a sentencing hearing. The written plea was signed on April 12 and added to courthouse records on Friday.

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