Kayla Bellanger, 25, who runs a day care center out of her Westwego, Louisiana, home, faces charges of child desertion after her arrest Monday, when a toddler in Bellanger’s care was somehow bitten 11 times on his face, head, arms, ankles, feet and legs — and then Bellanger suggested to the child’s mom that the little boy bit himself.
Mom Amanda Dufrene, 30, says that she received glowing recommendations of Bellanger from both a co-worker and relative whom she trusted, so she had no qualms about leaving her 22-month-old son, Carson, at Bellanger’s home for the first time — and what would turn out to be the last time — on July 2, where he would be cared for along with seven other kids in the home that day.
Carson was healthy and uninjured when she left him there. But when Dufrene came back later in the day to pick up her little boy, she was horrified.
“My heart dropped,” Dufrene said. “It was the worst feeling in the world to see my baby look like he did.”
She took a few photos of her child’s injuries, which included scratch marks as well as bites, including this one.
And these two.
The mom had received some advance warning from Bellanger. She said that the day care provider sent her a photo shortly after 2 p.m. in the afternoon showing some of the bites.
Bellanger told Dufrene that she “felt terrible” about it, but she asked Dufrene if Carson often bit himself because, she said, the boy was sleeping by himself on a sofa when the bites appeared.
When she showed up, it was clear to Dufrene that her child had been somehow attacked.
“I was hysterical… I remember saying to her, ‘How could you possibly think he did this to himself?’ “
The attack traumatized Carson, his mom says, leaving the toddler fearful and repeatedly grabbing at his skin while yelling “bite!”
According to Westwego Police Captain Eddie Beyerback, Bellanger claimed that she left the boy unattended only briefly while she made snacks for the kids.
“You would think with this number of bite marks, you would have heard the kid crying,” Beyerback said. “It wouldn’t have gotten to this extent.”
As it turned out, Bellanger — though she possesses a permit to operate a home business — has no child care license, a license required by the state for child-care providers who look after seven or more kids at once.
The July 2 incident came a week before a four-month-old baby died at an unlicensed day care facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Through her lawyer, Bellanger denied the charges.
“We categorically deny that she did anything wrong,” said Cameron Mary, the lawyer for Kayla Bellanger.
[Image: Westwego Police Department]