PINE LAWN, MO — A Missouri daycare center is under investigation by police after surveillance video showed a worker flinging a 3-year-old girl by the arm into a cabinet, splitting open her forehead, and then claimed in an incident report that the child accidentally fell, police and an attorney for the girl's family said.
The little girl suffered a large gash on her forehead that required seven stitches after she was taken to a hospital by ambulance, Jennifer Hansen, an attorney for the child's family, told ABC News on Wednesday.
"They did their research, they went to a daycare that they thought was safe, and they left their child with people they paid to keep them from harm," Hansen said of the girl's parents. "They ... couldn't have foreseen that a daycare worker could do what they did to their daughter."
Hansen said the girl's injury from the daycare center incident got infected and required her to stay in the hospital for three days.
Hansen said the family wants to remain anonymous, but have given her permission to speak on their behalf.
"The reason that they've come forward is that they are concerned that what happened to their daughter could very well happen to any other child," Hansen said.
She said the incident occurred on Feb. 1, and the parents were given an incident report in which the worker allegedly wrote the child's injury was the result of a "fall" on the carpet.
But it wasn't until five days later that the child's parents learned what really occurred when they requested to watch the surveillance video with the director of the Brighter Daycare and Preschool in the St. Louis suburb of Pine Lawn, Hansen said. The director, according to Hansen, hadn't viewed the footage until she watched it with the parents.
"The family requested they look at the surveillance video because they had trouble understanding how their daughter could sustain such a severe injury as a result of a fall," Hansen said. "They only learned that what had been called a 'fall' was actually an assault."
In the surveillance video viewed by ABC News, the girl is seen calmly standing at a table when the worker walks up to her, grabs her by the arm and pulls her. The worker is then seen hurling the child, who falls and slides across the floor, hitting her forehead on the edge of a cabinet.
Sgt. Kevin Smith of the North County Police Cooperative told ABC News that while reviewing the video of the incident, police discovered a second incident where a different child at the day care center was injured by a worker.
Smith said that in the second incident, a worker grabbed the child by the arm so hard that the employee's fingernails punctured the child's skin and left bruising.
He said both incidents remain under investigation and police plan to present evidence within two weeks to the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, who will decide whether to file criminal charges against both employees.
The two employees, whose names were not made public, have both been fired by the daycare center, Smith and Hansen said.
A woman who answered the phone at Brighter Daycare and Preschool on Wednesday said the center had no comment.
Hansen said the family has not decided whether to file a lawsuit against the center. She said the parents had removed their daughter and their son from the facility.
"Physically, she's on the mend. She's working with a plastic surgeon to help minimize what will likely be a lifelong scare," Hansen said of the girl she represents. "Emotionally, she and her family are rightfully traumatized by what happened."