Update: Gumm has pled not guilty to 16 charges against her. She could face life in prison if found guilty of killing 3 month old Rylan.
The parents of a 3-month-old girl who died while under the care of Waukegan-area babysitter Sarah Gumm have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Gumm and Care.com, a nanny screening service that helped the couple hire her.
Nathan and Reggan Koopmeiners, of Kenosha, allege that Care.com failed to perform an adequate background check that they claim would have revealed that Gumm had a criminal record, according to the civil lawsuit.
Gumm, 35, was charged in Lake County with first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Rylan Koopmeiners after an autopsy showed that the baby suffered a fractured skull. Gumm’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin in September.
Recently, the baby’s parents filed wrongful death lawsuits in both Kenosha and Lake County courts.
“This was tragic, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” said Nancy Bushkin, spokeswoman for Massachusetts-based Care.com, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online marketplace for finding and managing family care.” Bushkin declined to answer questions.
Rylan’s parents began their search for a child care provider through Care.com around fall 2011, according to the court record. They paid a monthly charge, plus an additional fee for a “premier background check,” which was to include criminal records, according to the lawsuit.
Lake County court records show that a Sarah Rachoner, a name Gumm formerly used, was convicted of a 2010 DUI charge in Lake County. The lawsuit claims she had two other legal run-ins that Care.com failed to disclose to the couple. A Tribune search of court records in five Chicago-area counties and Wisconsin did not turn up any other criminal cases against Gumm.
The couple could not be reached; their attorney declined to comment on the civil suit.
Prosecutors allege that on July 27, 2012, Gumm was changing Rylan’s diaper when the baby became fussy and Gumm became irritated, striking the baby’s head on the table.
Authorities said Gumm left the baby alone twice that day, taking a cab both times to a drugstore, where she bought a 1.5-liter bottle of white wine during each trip.
Attorney Jed Stone, who is representing Gumm in the criminal case, said she has admitted to leaving the baby alone and drinking wine, but he argued that she should be charged with recklessness — not murder.
“I completely understand the parents’ devastation at the loss of their child,” Stone said Friday.
“Having said that, Sarah didn’t intentionally or knowingly cause harm to this baby. Whatever happened, happened as a result of recklessness and illness and ought to be treated as recklessness and illness.”
“She must go to prison. I don’t disagree with that,” said Stone, who is seeking a plea deal with the state’s attorney. “She is a kind, caring decent woman with a problem.”
The day Rylan died, her parents had dropped her off at Gumm’s home about 6:45 a.m., as they had every weekday since they hired Gumm six weeks prior, prosecutors have said.
At about 4:30 p.m., Gumm called police and said the baby was not breathing. Rylan was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.
According to authorities, Gumm told police later that evening that Rylan had been sleeping when Gumm heard a “gurgling noise” and noticed that the baby seemed to be in distress, prompting Gumm to call for help.