WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County woman has received suspended jail time for letting her children ride on top of an SUV in 2017.
Retired Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced Michele Renee Panfile in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Wednesday to 12 months in jail for each of four counts of rendering a child under 18 to require services. Hupp suspended each term in its entirety. Panfile pleaded guilty to each misdemeanor.
A grand jury indicted Panfile on Feb. 14 on four felony counts of cruelty to children.
An agreement between Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley and Panfile’s lawyer Jerry O. Talton Jr. called for the defendant to plead guilty to the four indictments, which were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.
Wiseley offered a proffer of the evidence the commonwealth intended to present had the case gone to trial. Authorities on Sept. 13, 2017, viewed video surveillance footage taken two days earlier on a trail at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. The footage showed the moving SUV traveling with four children on its roof, Wiseley said.
Talton said his client would dispute that she was driving the SUV. Talton said that his client’s mother, now deceased, was driving the SUV while Panfile held on to the side of the vehicle at the time of the incident.
Panfile attended and completed a parenting class as required under the plea agreement. Hupp also ordered Panfile to complete a year of probation.
Panfile apologized to her children before Hupp imposed punishment.
“It was a very foolish and unwise thing to do and it ... could have turned out much worse,” Panfile told Hupp.