Pinellas County

Cops: St. Pete preschool worker used excessive force on 2 toddlers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A worker at a St. Petersburg preschool is accused of using excessive force on two toddlers.

Linda Williams was arrested and charged with child abuse. She was also fired from her job.

Father, Joseph D. Little III and the child's mother, who did not want to be identified, learned of the abuse at Leap of Faith Preschool Friday.

"It was like a little infant gazelle being attacked by a big grown lion," said Little.

The parents tell us the daycare manager called them after capturing video of Williams using excessive force on their child.

"Wait a minute, I know I'm not seeing what I'm seeing. It was to the point where I had to walk out," said the child's mother.

Police said on the video, Williams is seen pushing the child down several times on a cot and trying to smothering her with a blanket.

"You can see her taking a young child, like a baby, one-year-old, and forcibly making the child lie down, covering the child up, forcibly, head and all, with a blanket," said Yolanda Fernandez, with the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Detectives said she also picked another child up by their arm and slammed them in a chair.

"Grabbing a child, lifting a child up by the top of the arm, full weight of the child and slamming the child down onto a little chair to make the child sit down at a table," said Fernandez.

Christina Rogers, daycare manager, said she watches the security tapes daily and saw the abuse.

"We did everything that we needed to do to make sure the children were safe. We reported it to the police and we handled the situation that way," said Rogers.

Rogers contacted police. Williams was arrested Monday.

"Because these children were so tiny and this is a person that was supposed to be trusted with their care, that's what makes it cross the line," said Fernandez.

News Channel 8 tried reaching Williams at her home Wednesday, but there was no answer.

The Pinellas County Childcare Licensing Board is also investigating the incident.

Parents believe the abuse had been going on for at least a month.

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