Three women who worked at a church-run daycare facility in Alabama were arrested yesterday on charges of child abuse against up to a dozen kids under the age of two. (Seven kids have already been identified as victims.)
The incidents took place at a daycare run by Journey Church of the River Region in Prattville, Alabama, and they were only discovered after a potential employee began shadowing the workers. She found their methods disturbing and alerted the head of the facility, who then got in touch with law enforcement.
“The director pulled the (video) footage for the last 30 days and the video showed multiple incidents of child abuse,’’ [Chief Deputy District Attorney C.J.] Robinson said.
“These victims can’t talk, they can’t walk,” Robinson said. “They can’t go home to their parents and tell them something was going on.”
Now, Alice Sorrells, Leah Livingston and Susan Baker have each been charged with felony child abuse and failure to report that abuse as court mandated reporters. There may be up to 40 total counts of child abuse between them—with the potential for 1-10 years of prison time for each guilty verdict—by the time a special grand jury hears their case later this month.
The victims in question did not suffer any serious physical injuries or sexual abuse, but Robinson said the case involved “striking, shoving and punching.” A spokesperson for the church said all three women have been fired and that they’re working with law enforcement.
Given that Robinson said of the surveillance video, “it is unbelievable. It is something that you would imagine that would be in a horror movie or something disturbing,” it raises many questions about how it went unnoticed for weeks, if not months. How did the church even vet these workers before they were hired?
Before beginning at this daycare, all three worked at nearby East Memorial Baptist Church Day Care Center, which closed months ago. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing at that facility.
Still, if you’re a parent of one of these children, how could you ever trust church leaders about anything? They weren’t protecting your children; how could you give the leaders permission to protect your souls?
It’s still early to know the fallout here, but I shudder to think of what those parents must be thinking right now. Here’s hoping their kids are safe and they realize this religious institution doesn’t deserve their trust.