SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Pinellas County preschool worker was fired after she was reportedly captured on camera abusing a toddler.
Authorities said 62-year-old Rebecca Bird was employed at Aldersgate Christian Learning Center for less than a week when Senior Pastor Ben Stilwell-Hernandez said the abuse was discovered.
“Over the weekend, we reviewed our surveillance records and discovered some inappropriate activity and terminated that staff member’s employment,” Stilwell-Hernandez said.
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Bird was seen on camera grabbing the victim’s arms several times, grabbing the victim’s face around his chin area and thrusting it upward. Arrest documents said it appeared Bird also struck the victim in the face with an open hand.
Bird admitted to investigators she pulled the victim’s hair when the toddler was not listening and grabbed his arms and face.
News Channel 8 spoke to the victim’s grandmother who chose to identify herself by her first name only.
“He’s two. He can’t talk, he can only act out, and he did this weekend,” Amy said. “We couldn’t figure out why, but now we know why.”
To work at the preschool, the church said Bird first passed a background check required by the state. 8 On Your Side conducted a check of our own, which showed a criminal record that dates back years and includes three DUI arrests.
“The state said she was eligible to work with children so we followed through with our hiring policies. There was no abuse history, no sign that this would’ve happened, but it did,” Stilwell-Hernandez added.
The victim’s family was notified about the abuse on Monday and said their children no longer attend the school.