AUBURNDALE, Fla. (WFLA) – A former Polk County day care employee is facing charges after police say she abused five preschool children.
Auburndale police say they started investigating allegations of child abuse at Little Bloodhound Preschool on July 31. Detectives worked with the owner of the preschool and contacted the parents and guardians of potential victims.
During the investigation, detectives say they reviewed hours of surveillance video and eventually confirmed five preschool children were victims of child abuse.
Police arrested 36-year-old Michelle Wilkerson of Winter Haven on Tuesday.
Detectives say they found Wilkerson, on two separate occasions, had yanked a child who was sitting in a chair by the arm to move the child to another table. On three separate occasions, Wilkerson is accused of covering the mouth, nose and chin of a child, forcing the child’s head back to make them look toward the ceiling. Police say she also would squeeze the child’s cheek and make the child cry.
In a news release, police say Wilkerson admitted that “even though it looked bad,” she was trying to stop children from biting each other. Detectives say the investigation revealed the abuse was more than stopping one child from biting another child.
Police say the policy of Little Bloodhounds does not allow an employee to place hands on a child. Instead, employees are supposed to verbally redirect the child.
Wilkerson was charged with five counts of child abuse and taken to the Polk County Jail.