UPDATE

PD: Child hit with broom; 3 at Phoenix day care facility arrested

Posted: Updated:
Lilly Adams (left), Ruben Sandoval and Perla Denise Sierra Duarte. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Lilly Adams (left), Ruben Sandoval and Perla Denise Sierra Duarte. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Booking photo of Perla Denise Sierra Duarte, director of the facility. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Booking photo of Perla Denise Sierra Duarte, director of the facility. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Booking photo of Ruben Sandoval, owner of the facility. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Booking photo of Ruben Sandoval, owner of the facility. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Police handle the broom seized as evidence. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Police handle the broom seized as evidence. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A worker, the director and the owner of a Phoenix child care facility have been arrested after a 21-month-old baby was struck twice with a broom, police said.

The child was taken to a local hospital with a 4-inch laceration on his face, Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said.

Police took into a custody worker, 37-year-old Lillie Adams; the director, Perla Denise Sierra Duarte, 26, as well as the owner of the Brighter Angels Learning Center, 51-year-old Ruben Sandoval.

Duarte and Sandoval  were arrested on charges of hindering prosecution and for failing to accurately report the injury to law enforcement. 

[Raw video: Police briefing on day care abuse investigation]

Officers said the case started unfolding on Friday, Feb. 17.

A court document stated that Adams was sweeping the floor in a classroom when the boy pushed over a plastic kitchen set.  When Adams stopped sweeping, the boy crawled under the table next to her.

“She used the broom to push the victim toward the side of the table,” court paperwork stated.

[Booking photo: Lillie Adams]

When the victim did not move, Adams allegedly swung the broom and struck the boy in the face two times.

“It’s not an attack as it is an assault with the broom,” Fortune said. “I can’t tell you how long but I can tell you the broom was used.”

Ten children, ages 1 and 2, were in the classroom at the time, police said.

The boy began to cry and Adams reached under the table and picked him up by one arm, according to the officer’s report. Adams saw the boy was bleeding and put a napkin against the victim’s head, officers said. The alleged incident was captured on the school’s surveillance cameras.

[PDF: Initial police report on day care abuse investigation] 

The victim was taken to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The child’s mother returned to the day care facility and asked for a meeting with the director and owner. When asked to see the video, she was told she could not view it, the court document stated.

A police report was filed Thursday after the hospital called the boy’s mother and asked her to bring her son back for a follow-up. The pre-school director gave her a letter from the school to give to the doctor stating the boy tripped over a toy and bumped his head, court paperwork stated.

After going back to the hospital again, the boy’s mom reached out to authorities.

“At that point, the mother of the child contacted the police department and that’s when the investigation started,” Fortune said.

Officers viewed the video and arrested Adams Thursday.

During a police interview, Adams said she was cleanup up the room because children had spilled cereal after breakfast.

[Raw video: Initial court appearance for Lillie Adams]

Seeing the boy climb under the table, she alleged she twice asked him to move. She said the boy was laughing and she tried to push him away with the broom, officers said.

Adams admitted she hit him two times but didn’t believe she hit him hard, police said.

She said she pulled him by one arm from underneath the table, took him across the room and applied a wet paper towel on his head.

Adams said she was called to the office about 45 minutes later, where she was told to sign a resignation letter and not to talk to anyone about the incident, including police.

Adams was booked into jail on one count of child abuse. The director faces a charge of failure to report.

"What we’re telling parents is, if there’s something that you feel you need to bring our attention to, then please do," Fortune said.

[Google map: 7227 S. Central Ave.]

According to Arizona Department of Health Services records, Brighter Angels received 11 citations in September 2016.  Some of the citations involved no feeding instructions posted in the infant room, soiled diaper containers where children could reach them, a van without seatbelts, a wrought iron fence with too large a gap near a play area, and uncovered outlets. 

The issues were documented as corrected the next day.

Additional records show inspectors investigated a complaint January 2017 where the allegation lacked sufficient evidence to be substantiated. 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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