COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado day care owner convicted of misdemeanor child abuse and other crimes for keeping 26 children hidden in a basement was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison.

Carla Faith was only licensed to care for up to six children and only two of them were allowed to be under the age of 2.

Police went to her center after getting reports that it was caring for more children than allowed. Although Faith repeatedly told an officer that no children were there, the officer could hear children’s music and a child’s cry from the basement, according to her arrest affidavit. Another officer discovered a small seam separating a false wall from the actual wall and moved it to reveal the stairway to the basement, the document said.

Parents and relatives filled the courtroom for Faith’s sentencing. Many told the judge that their children have suffered trauma since being at the day care, citing sleep and anxiety issues, KOAA-TV reported.

Faith’s lawyer, Josh Tolini, said she has a significant issue with saying “no” and the situation snowballed. He said she did not have the heart to turn these children away and made some “incredibly poor decisions about how to do this.”

The Associated Press