UPDATE (Nov. 15, 2019) — The court granted a motion for a directed verdict in the case of Ashley James, essentially meaning the state couldn’t meet its burden of proof. The case is now closed.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A 1-year-old girl is beaten and bloodied inside an Indianapolis day care. Now the businesses director and an employee are facing felony neglect charges.
The 1-year-old girl was injured by an 11-year-old boy at the day care, but prosecutors believe the manager and an employee are responsible for the injuries because they provided poor supervision to the kids.
Prosecutors say the business routinely had too many children and not enough staff.
It all happened at the “Live, Laugh, Love and Learn” day care on east 38th street. Police were called in October when the girl’s father picked up his daughter and found her bleeding and bruised, with a swollen lip and deep scratches on her back.
According to court records, video cameras inside the business showed an 11-year-old boy, “Systematically attacking, battering and strangling the one year old victim with his fist and a wooden paddle toy on the face, head, back and feet.”
Brandi Bonner was the lone employee working in the business at the time and had to look after 8 kids all by herself. Prosecutors claim Bonner witnessed the abuse and did nothing to stop it, even leaving the two children alone in the room together while she made dinner.
The affidavit claims Bonner told police she loved kids and added, “My intention was not to let that boy do that to that little girl.” Prosecutors say Bonner also later confessed, “I see that I messed up on the video.”
The businesses director Ashley James was out of state at the time of the alleged abuse and told police, “When she learned about Brandi having so many kids, it was towards the end of the day, so there wasn’t anything she could do.”
The attorney representing James called the case against James “pretty thin” and doesn’t think James is liable for the injuries. The attorney points out James cooperated fully, didn’t lie to police and wasn’t aware that there were too many kids and not enough employees on the night in question.
The “Live Laugh Love and Learn” day care is an unlicensed ministry registered with the FSSA. Officials with that agency say the business was cited twice this year for not complying with the required child-staff ratio of 4 to 1.
Prosecutors made clear with the criminal neglect charges, even if the two suspects never physically abused the young girl, they share some blame for putting the girl in a potentially dangerous environment.
Court records say James fired her employee Bonner the day after the allegations came to light.
The state took the action of decertifying the business last month. That means that can’t receive any more federal funding assistance, although the business does still remain open for business.
Initial hearings for Bonner and James are scheduled for Thursday.