Woman arrested, booked for alleged child abuse at Mesa preschool

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by Andrew Michalscheck

Video reports by Natalie Brand, Kristine Harrington, Jill Galus and Jaime Cerreta

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 21 at 9:33 AM

MESA, Ariz. – At least one person has been arrested after Mesa police said they confirmed claims of child abuse at a local preschool.

According to police, officers responded to Cholla Montessori Childcare near University Drive and Gilbert Road after receiving information that kids were being mistreated.

Police said when they arrived they found a 2-year-old child wrapped tightly in a blanket with her right arm behind her back and the ends of the blanket tied to keep it in place.

The child was untied and found to be sweaty. The young girl didn’t need any medical attention, and was placed in the custody of her parents.

"Our detectives came out and made contact and they did indeed find a little 2-year-old girl who was restrained physically in a sleeping area, she was not able to move about," said Detective Steve Berry with Mesa police.

Employees were interviewed and police said they were able to identify a woman as a suspect.

Lauren Miller, 21, was booked on suspicion of child abuse and unlawful imprisonment.

A former co-worker of Miller, Bailey Turley, told 3TV she took the picture after she noticed the child wrapped up tightly.

"I tried untying the knot and it was so tight that I could barely get it out," Turley said. "I almost had to use my teeth to get it untied, and I could barely get my fingers between the blanket and her neck."

Turley says she's since been fired from the day care, but told 3TV that Miller had tied up children in the past.

"For a while now this girl Lauren has been tying up her kids and my kids, so they can't move during nap time."

According to court documents, Miller told police that she wrapped the child in the blanket because she wanted to stop the girl from bothering other kids. Miller reportedly said she did not feel that restraining the child was wrong.

Miller was arraigned on Friday and ordered held on $2,700 bond. She is due back in court Oct. 24 for a status conference, and will have a preliminary hearing Oct. 28.

Cholla Montessori Childcare was open for business Friday morning.

3TV's Jill Galus spoke with one mother who said she had no reservations about leaving her young children at Cholla Montessori.

"I know the employees that have been working for a while," Jonie Keator said. "Nothing will stop me. Life goes on. It's not all of them. It's just that one person so they got rid of her."

The owner of the school told 3TV's Kristine Harrington that she was totally unaware of any alleged abuse and said if someone suspected something, they should have reported it immediately. She is cooperating with police.  

When 3TV asked Bailey Turley why she didn't go to police sooner, she said, "Earlier she wasn't tying them up this tight. It's my fault for not doing it earlier. I just thought it looked a lot worse that day."

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