Former Exmore resident pleads guilty to child neglect in Northampton Court

September 7, 2023
Northampton County Courthouse

By Linda Cicoira

A former Exmore mother pleaded guilty Monday in Northampton Circuit Court to felony neglect of a child in a case that started out as five charges, one involving each of her children.

Thirty-seven-year-old Stephanie Lynn Williams lived on Houston Road with children ranging from two years old to 17, between May 2020 and May 2022. She admitted to one count of neglect “whose willful act or omission in the care of such child was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.”

In a bargaining agreement, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jack Thornton agreed not to prosecute the other four charges in exchange for one guilty plea. The maximum sentence for the crime is five years in prison and a fine of $2,500. There was no stipulation for punishment. Williams was allowed to remain free on bond until sentencing, which was set for Dec. 11.

     According to testimony, Williams is living with three of the children at the home of her parents in northern Accomack. The parents share custody with Williams. One son is now an adult and lives in another part of Virginia with a relative. Another lives in North Carolina with his father.

Evidence showed that the youngest children were either naked or partially dressed while they went unsupervised to play on a neighbor’s play set. Police came and returned them to their home where Williams was asleep and thought an older child was watching them. He had also been asleep. A short time later, they were reported in the same state at a neighbor’s pool, after one of them climbed the fence.

There were reports of their living in squalor, not owning shoes, and truancy, in addition to numerous police reports for other complaints.

“I do hope she continues with whatever therapy she is getting,” Thornton said of Williams. The children could have been abducted or fallen in the pool, he added.

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