Preschool worker arrested after allegedly squeezing child's cheeks until they cried
A Florida preschool worker was charged with five counts of child abuse after she allegedly used questionable methods to stop a child from biting another youngster, according to WFTS-TV.
Auburndale police arrested Michelle Wilkerson, 36, of Winter Haven, following a joint investigation with The Florida Department of Children and Families into Little Bloodhound Preschool, where authorities identified five children who were victims of child abuse.
When questioned by detectives, Wilkerson reportedly said she was trying to stop one child from biting another, law enforcement said. Police, however, concluded that the "abuse was more than stopping one child from biting one another."
In two separate incidents, Wilkerson allegedly yanked a child by the arm in an attempt to force them to move to a different table. Authorities said that on three other occasions, Wilkerson covered the mouth, nose and chin of a child, pushed their head back so that the child would look at the ceiling and squeezed the child's cheek until they cried.
One parent told WFTS-TV that she was not aware of any abuse at the preschool until now.
"My son has been going here since he was 6 months old," Elizabeth Godinez said. "My daughter has been going here since she was a year old. She's 5 and he's 4 now and I've never had any problems."
Under separate questioning, Little Bloodhounds purportedly told police that it does not let employees place their hands on children.
Wilkerson, who had most recently been arrested in April, has a lengthy rap sheet that dates back to 2012, WFTS-TV notes. One report states that she was out on bond once for "charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer."