PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Prescott Valley Police are asking parents to come forward if they think their child was hurt at Gummy Bear Early Learning Center between February and July of 2019.
Chandler Blankenship, 18, was hired at the daycare in February and was arrested this week for aggravated assault on a child and child abuse.
"He was very quiet and like he didn't really interact with any of the parents and if I ever asked him like where Liam's sippy cup was or if he napped at all throughout the day, he was just like, 'uhh...' and then go get somebody else," said Cari Barrett, a mother of a child who attends the daycare.
"I always got this weird vibe like if he can't even talk to me, why is he watching my son?"
Barrett said she literally got sick to her stomach after hearing that Blankenship hit a 3-year-old girl, causing significant bruising to her face, ears and neck.
Initially, Blankenship filled out an "ouch report" stating that Liam was responsible for the girl's injuries.
"They said Liam got involved in an altercation. They said Liam got really rough with one of the other kids, with a little girl--scratched her chest enough to cause bleeding and then lost his balance, tripped, fell, slammed his head into hers causing a knot on her head," Barrett explained. "It just made me so sick that my son was blamed for something and he is so sweet."
Employees say that Blankenship couldn't keep his story straight.
Upon reviewing surveillance footage, the staff noticed Blankenship went into the bathroom with the girl for about 11 minutes, where there are no cameras. Police believe that is where the abuse occurred.
Barrett said once she saw the bruises on the little girl, she remembered when Liam came home from the day care on May 29 with red marks under his arms and a hand-print shaped mark on his side.
"It was welted up and he wouldn't let me pick him up, he wouldn't let me hug him, he wouldn't let me touch him. He was screaming all night saying 'ouchie' and 'hurt,'" Barrett recalled.
Staff reassured Barrett that Liam was likely just rough-housing and there was nothing to worry about.
"She said her daughter has the exact same marks that my son had under his arms," Barrett said, referencing her conversation with the 3-year-old girl's mother.
Barrett has now filed a police report.
Several daycare employees quit their jobs after learning about Blankenship's arrest.
"At 2am, I texted and said, 'we can't be a part of Gummy Bear anymore, I don't want any association.' And people were making threats online," said Siara Stapleton, who worked there for 10 months. "Most of the time, we didn't have any of the supplies we needed. There weren't ever bosses at our sites if we did need to get a hold of someone. Just a lot of things were not tended to basically and so we did what we had to and we love the kids so that's why we stayed."
Gummy Bear Early Learning Center said they are mortified by the incident and want to apologize to all of the families. The owner of the daycare announced on Friday that both locations will be closed permanently.