A Miami Beach child care worker has been arrested and charged with various felony child abuses after being caught on video allegedly punching, slapping, and otherwise “torturing” children as young as two and three years old, WPLG (Miami) is reporting.
Clara Luz Quintero-Gonzalez, 54, faces three counts of child abuse with no great bodily harm and one count of aggravated child abuse with great bodily harm.
Authorities first became aware of Clara Luz Quintero-Gonzalez’ alleged abuse of children on August 25 when a mother, who was apparently familiar with Quintero-Gonzalez, went to pick up her own daughter from the Lincoln Marti School. Laura Pantano, 35, says she observed Gonzalez allegedly grabbing a 3-year-old boy and shaking him by the shoulder.
Pantano confronted Quintero-Gonzalez, and a scuffle ensued. The police were called, according to The Macon Telegraph.
“I was infuriated. I made a big scene.”
As it turns out, according to Pantano, Gonzalez was allegedly known around the day care center as a woman who abused children. Pantano’s four-year-old daughter, who was not one of the kids allegedly victimized by Gonzalez, said that she (the daughter) had seen Gonzalez hitting and otherwise hurting other kids. When Pantano took her daughter for the first day of school at Lincoln Marti this year, Pantano says the girl cried and didn’t want to go inside.
“My daughter would tell me the stories and it would make me sick.”
Following the scuffle between Pantano and Gonzalez, Miami Beach police began an investigation. What they found can, at best, be described as a remarkable failure of Lincoln Marti staff to follow proper safety protocols; at worst, they may have stumbled upon a cover-up.
Police talked to the school’s director, Yanet Perez, who said she did not witness any abuse because she was attending to another child. When asked about surveillance footage, police were allegedly told that the school’s surveillance cameras don’t record anything, they just live-stream footage.
That statement turned out to have not been true, according to Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.
“There were four separate victims, all 2 and 3 years old. Detectives were able to view surveillance, with which the interviews, led to the charges.”
In one incident, Gonzalez can be seen slapping a 2-year-old on the arm and then yanking him, then grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him, then slapping him across the face, then repeatedly slapping his hands. Meanwhile, the other kids in Gonzalez’ care were unsupervised.
“In the same video for several minutes the children in the classroom, ages 2 and 3, can be seen running around repeatedly striking each other, throwing items not in the clear eye of the teacher.”
NEW @ NOON: Lincoln Marti preschool teacher goes before judge on child abuse/neglect charges. Her family was there. pic.twitter.com/pseNofAoX2
— Erica Rakow (@EricaRakow) September 2, 2016
In a second incident, Gonzalez could be seen allegedly striking a two-year-old boy’s right arm, then attempting to strike him three more times. Gonzalez missed as the boy recoiled before landing two blows. She could then be seen striking him in a “karate chop” type motion, as described by the police complaint.
In a third incident, Quintero-Gonzalez is seen putting her face up against a 3-year-old boy’s ear; when he tries to move away, she can be seen slapping him across the arm, shaking him, and then slapping him across the face.
When confronted with the evidence against her, Quintero-Gonzalez told the cops, in Spanish, “It was nothing.” Police also note that Gonzalez had signed a contract with her employer that corporal punishment of the children was not allowed.
Gonzalez was taken to jail and booked on $30,000 bond.
Pantano, for her part, later wrote on social media that she’s glad that this ugly chapter of her life appears to be behind her.
“My thanks go to the police department and the news reporters that worked hard on this case and gave the right attention to this awful matter.”
As of this writing, Quintero-Gonzalez remains jailed until her next court appearance.
[Image courtesy of Miami-Dade Corrections]