PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ — The Prescott Valley Police Department is investigating numerous reports of child abuse that have allegedly occurred at a local daycare center.
One employee has already been arrested. Chandler Blankenship is facing charges of child abuse and aggravated assault.
The alleged abuse happened July 9 at Gummy Bear Early Learning Center, located near Robert Road and Manley Drive in Prescott Valley.
According to the police report, Blankenship initially told the three-year-old victim’s mother that the toddler was in a fight with another student. The mother did not believe him and called the police.
Detectives reviewed security footage, and the surveillance did not show a fight.
Instead, it showed Blankenship in the bathroom with the child for 11 minutes.
Blankenship initially told officers he might have grabbed the three-year-old off the sink and scratched her. But then “admitted he lost his temper when he saw her playing in the water with her hair and yanked her off the sink hard and caused her to hit her head.”
The little girl fell on the floor and hit her head, according to police. Police say Blankenship then admitted to lifting her on her feet and striking her in the face with an open hand, as well as backhanding the child.
Gummy Bear Early Learning Center told ABC15 over the phone that they were completely blindsided by the reports of abuse, and had no previous issues with the employee. They also said they are cooperating with police.
According to the daycare facility, the employee had only been working there for five months.
HAPPENING NOW:— Zach Crenshaw (@ZachCrenshaw) July 12, 2019
Prescott Valley PD executing a search warrant at the Gummy Bear Early Learning Center, after police arrested 18-year-old Chandler Blankenship for child abuse and aggravated assault on a 3-year-old girl. pic.twitter.com/J0xF0apG2M
Prescott Valley police told ABC15 they had received four other reports of possible child abuse between two Gummy Bear facilities, bringing the total to five.
Right now, Blankenship is only a suspect in one case of abuse because the others are being actively investigated.
Detectives say each daycare facility has the capacity for 50 children, and they are urging parents to call the police if they suspect potential abuse.
Forensic child investigators are currently interviewing the four children whose parents have filed new complaints.
Prescott Valley police are asking any parents with suspicions of abuse between February and July to call them at 928-772-9267.
The investigation is ongoing to determine if there are additional suspects or additional victims.
The Gummy Bear Early Learning Center is cooperating with the Prescott Valley Police Department’s investigation, and the appropriate licensing agency has been notified.