ST. LOUIS — Charges have been filed against two Missouri day care center workers after surveillance video showing a 3-year-old girl being thrown against a cabinet went viral.
The woman accused of throwing the girl, 27-year-old Wilma Brown, was charged with felony child abuse on Thursday in St. Louis County. The incident happened on Feb. 1 at Brighter Day Care and Preschool.
The girl’s family said they were initially told the girl fell, but five days later watched surveillance video with the center’s director that showed a worker throwing the child into a cabinet.
Brown, who in the day care’s surveillance video appears to grab the child, wrote that the child suffered a “bump on her head” after falling on the carpet, according to a copy of the unintentional injury form provided by the family’s attorney, Jennifer Hansen.
The toddler was treated at a hospital for a gash in the middle of her forehead and swelling in her face. She received seven stitches, then was readmitted two days later after the wound became infected, Hansen said. The family grew concerned after the child’s medical issues seemed to be more serious than initially reported, and asked to see the day care’s surveillance footage.
On February 5, the family watched the footage with the day care’s director, Hansen said. Brown was subsequently fired, according to Hansen and Timothy J. Smith, an attorney representing the day care.
A warrant has been issued for Brown’s arrest. The only telephone listing for someone matching Brown’s name and age was unlisted.
Prosecutors also charged 22-year-old Ariana Silver for a separate incident on Feb. 27 that was also allegedly captured by surveillance video. Charging documents allege Silver squeezed a 4-year-old girl’s arm and punctured her skin, and then carried the girl by her foot.
Silver is jailed on $50,000 bond. Jail records don’t show whether she has an attorney, and she doesn’t have a publicly listed home phone number.
Both women have been fired, according to Timothy Smith, an attorney for the day care center.
Smith said the center is cooperating with investigators and “has provided exemplary, high quality educational and child care services to thousands of children and their families for more than a decade.” The attorney said teachers and staff are properly trained, and the center works to provide a safe environment.
Lawyer: Day care called it a fall but it was an assault
Hansen said the 3-year-old’s family “hopes that the release of the surveillance footage will result in justice for this child and ensure that other children are not harmed by the very people entrusted to keep them safe.”
“In no world did this family have any idea that what was called a fall was actually an assault until they came to see that video,” Hansen told CNN affiliate KTVI.
Hansen told the station: “The day care could’ve reviewed that footage at any time.”
“They didn’t, and they allowed the day care worker who assaulted this little girl to continue to work at the facility for five additional days,” Hansen said.
The child’s parents have requested that their names not be disclosed, but Hansen told CNN in an interview on Thursday they are willing to cooperate with any investigation into the incident.
Mom wonders what she could have done differently
Hansen said the 3-year-old’s mother “feels terrible that this happened to her family.”
She is “strong for her daughter, but privately she is wondering what she could have done differently,” Hansen said.
Smith, the day care’s attorney, said the day care’s teachers and staff “are properly trained and extremely qualified.”
“Providing a quality education in a safe environment is of the utmost importance to our teachers and staff,” he said in the statement.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement: “After seeing this horrific video and videos from multiple cases in recent weeks, I am committed to doing everything I can to protect our children and grandchildren.”
Hansen said the child is home from the hospital and her family is consulting with a plastic surgeon in the hopes of reducing the visibility of the scar on the child’s forehead.
“This sweet little girl is getting lots of love and support from her family while she heals from her injuries,” Hansen said in the statement.