Workers at a Georgia day care center called the police on one of their own employees after witnessing her slam a toddler into a mat.
Jonee Hamilton was arrested on Tuesday, a week after the alleged attack at Oxford Babies daycare center in Smyrna, Ga.
Officer Heather Knight, a representative for the Smyrna Police Department, told the Marietta Daily Journal that the 20-year-old allegedly picked up a 16-month-old girl and slammed her face first into a mat because she was refusing to nap. Hamilton is charged with aggravated assault and first-degree cruelty to children, according to her arrest report.
“On Nov. 28 it was determined that a recently hired assistant teacher returned a toddler to her sleeping mat in an improper and inappropriate manner,” Oxford Babies owner Cindy Smith told Yahoo Lifestyle. “The teacher was fired immediately,” Smith said.
Police told the Marietta Daily Journal that the assault caused a “laceration on the inside of the toddler’s lip, which left her clothes bloodied.”
“There were actually other teachers in the class; we found it on our video,” Smith said. “I called right from the start — I was the first one to report it,” she said when asked who alerted the police.
She said that Oxford Babies has been “cooperating fully with all authorities investigating this incident, including, right from the start, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.” She’s also been working closely with the parents and “respecting their wishes while they were deciding what avenues they wanted to take.” When asked whether the child’s parents were pressing charges, Smith declined to comment.
Thankfully, the little girl is “fine,” Smith said. “She went to a doctor. They don’t see a concussion. But something like this could’ve easily caused concessions, broken bones,” Knight told Atlanta news station WSB-TV.
“It’s just traumatic for everyone, to think that a teacher couldn’t be trusted,” Smith said. “Especially when we have done all of our background checks and the state approved her and everything,” she added.
Hamilton had been working at Oxford Babies for two months, Smith said. “Prior to being hired, the teacher passed all background checks and had no prior history of improper behavior,” she said.
This has never happened at Oxford Babies before, according to Smith, who’s been caring for children for 35 years and been in business for 15. “It’s so difficult,” she shared. “I have teachers that have been with me for 15 years that have 30 and 40 years of experience. We’re a Christian school. And this was a young girl that was only here two months.”
While Smith says the incident “has hurt us all deeply,” she’s desperate to find meaning in its aftermath. “The benefit to being in a center is there are so many people watching each other and we have cameras,” she said. “Thank goodness she wasn’t a nanny somewhere.”
The rest of her staff is very dedicated. “We’ve got so many loving, wonderful teachers with 30, 40 years of experience that love these children, want to be here,” she said. “This is our passion. This was just one bad egg that could have been at any daycare center.”
Both Smith and the child’s parents feel strongly about “stopping” Hamilton from working at another facility. “I don’t know how she ended up at ours; maybe God sent her here so we could catch her and prevent her from doing this to someone else.”
Hamilton is currently in custody in at Cobb County Adult Detention Center and is being held without bond. According to the arrest report, she has no previous bookings at that facility and has no attorney of record on file with the jail.
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