ODESSA, Fla. — The owner of a Florida daycare and an employee are facing charges after alleged child abuse that was caught on video.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shared the surveillance video on its Facebook page, saying it was part of their investigation into abuse at a preschool. Detectives said the video shows Tara Ballou, an employee of Children’s Land of Imagination Academy, “forcefully pushing and pulling” a child’s arms, legs, head and neck with her hands in an attempt to get the child down for a nap.
Detectives said approximately half an hour after the video, Rong Liu, the daycare’s co-owner, performed similar actions on another child to get them to nap.
Both Ballou and Liu have been arrested and charged with child abuse.
Among the children who were allegedly victimized were non-verbal children, including Jessica Torres’ son, who is 2 years old and has autism, WTVT reported.
“They would put their legs over them to hold them down so that they couldn’t stand up during nap,” Torres told WTVT. “The detectives told me in one instance he was also pushed backwards into a classroom with somebody’s hands over his face.”
“The arrest of a second person in this case shows the dedication our investigators have in seeking out those who harm the innocent and vulnerable,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the Facebook post. “The video is hard to watch, but gives us a clear view of the mistreatment happening under their watch.”
One parent told WTSP that she was told by deputies in June that her son may have been abused in a case they were investigating, prompting her to pull him from the school, but that other parents were never told about the investigation. Nick Richardson and his wife found out what was happening at the school, which their daughter attends, only when another parent posted about the investigation on Facebook.
“When we have to find out basic facts through a social media platform, that’s unacceptable,” Richardson told WSTP.
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