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Phoenix daycare worker to spend time in jail for striking child in head in February

Posted: 9:51 AM, Oct 05, 2017
Updated: 2017-10-05 16:28:17Z
Phoenix daycare worker to spend time in jail
Phoenix daycare worker to spend time in jail

A former Phoenix daycare worker will spend 30 days in jail, plus three years probation for striking a child in the head twice with a broomstick back in February. 

The multiple strikes left 21-month-old boy's head bloody and scarred with a large gash at Brighter Angels near Central Avenue and Baseline Road.

Lillie Adams plead guilty to aggravated assault. The judge sentenced her Wednesday, allowing her to serve her time as a deferred work-release. Bryan Bouchard with the Superior Court of Arizona said in an email that deferred work-release means Adams will serve her term only on weekends.

"She will take herself to jail at a certain time on Thursday, for example, and spend the weekend there," Bouchard wrote. "She will continue this schedule until her sentence is fulfilled." 

Adams admitted to getting frustrated with the boy in her care for laughing and climbing under a table. She said he would not listen to her to come out, so she used the broom. She even mentioned to police during her interview that she was aware the broom had a sharp edge to it, as she had cut herself with the broom previously. 

This incident led to disturbing alleged cover-up by the daycare to ensure no one found out about what really happened inside; three employees in total arrested in this case.

The owner, Ruben Sandoval, and the daycare director, Perla Denise Sierra Duarte, were originally charged with failure to report neglect of a minor and hindering the prosecution .

Reports from police stated that both Sandoval and Duarte were aware of the abuse, seeing it clearly on video surveillance, but made the decision to tell the boy's mother (who was an employee at the daycare at the time) that the 21-month-old had tripped and fallen instead. 

Duarte took a plea agreement in July in Phoenix City Court after her charges were lowered to a misdemeanor. She was given two years probation, but must appear and testify against daycare owner, Ruben Sandoval. If she does this, her charges will go off her record. 

Sandoval is standing by a not guilty plea and his case is going to trial in Phoenix City Court next month. 

ABC15 also obtained a copy of a report¬†conducted by the Arizona Department of Health Services  that has a statement of deficiencies the child care facility is violating in lieu of this investigation. 

It was conducted back in August and then amended in September. 

In it, ADHS cited Brighter Angels for having too many children in Adams' classroom the day of the assault. 

They also stated that an employee with ADHS viewed the surveillance video of the assault confirms it occurred. It put the child in harm's way, so they received a second citation for their Health and Safety Standards.

Finally, they were also cited for Discipline and Guidance as it states, "a licensee shall ensure that a staff member does not use or permit... Corporal punishment." The assault itself justifies this third violation. 

The next steps for the child care facility will be from the Compliance/Enforcement team with ADHS. They will determine the next steps Brighter Angels must follow.

But, as of now, Brighter Angels has and is continuing to operate as normal, despite three employees being arrested; two of them convicted. The current owner, Sandoval, also owns multiple daycares around the state. 

We asked ADHS to explain why they are allowing the facility to stay open. In an email, a spokesperson said simply - they still have their license to operate.

"All facilities must correct any and all deficiencies immediately," said spokesperson Nicole Capone. "The Department is in discussions with the provider and their attorney with regards to the deficiencies cited and the pending Enforcement action."